Sunday, February 4, 2018

Eurydice—Young Professionals Company—NE Portland

“Thanks for the Memories”

     This modern adaptation of a Greek tragedy is written by Sarah Ruhl and directed by Lauren Bloom Hanover.  It is playing at OCT’s Y/P Studio Theater, 1939 NE Sandy Blvd., through February 11th.  For more information, go to their site at

     This is a great companion piece for Y/P’s previous production, “Jasper in Deadland,” and Twilight’s latest production, “Antigone” (as well as the film with Robin Williams, “What Dreams May Come” and the recent animated, excellent film, “Coco”).  They are all based, in part, on Greek plays and local legends about the Underworld, the loss of a loved one, the importance of memories and, especially, what lengths one will go to connect again with your soul mate (there is the old title, “To Hell and Back,” and that is exactly, in apart, what this is about).

     It is said, in the lore of some countries, that as long as one holds onto memories of a loved one, they never really die.  In this case, our hero, Orpheus (Nate Gardner), a musician, and his beloved since childhood, Eurydice (Fiona Jenkins), are set to be married.  But the one important person, in spirit only, missing from this ceremony, is her Father (Max Bernsohn), who is gone but not forgotten, either by her, or him and, even though he has been washed in the River of Forgetfulness, love seems to be stronger than even those soothing, tepid waters.

     And, as in all good tragedies, this fateful day also holds the demise of the young bride, as she, newly awashed, is greeted by The Stones (Madeleine Adriance, Heidi Osaki and Zyla Zody), a sort of Greek Chorus, as they’re job is to convince the recently arrived that they should be as a hard rock, oblivious to any outside urges or influences.  And the Lord of the Underworld (Henry Sanders), an underdeveloped, bratty little kid, is charged with making sure inmates stick to the rules—no contact with mortals or those pesky memories of “forgotten lore.”

     But not everybody plays by the same rules.  The Father acts as a servant to his daughter down under, recalling for her incidents from her life, so that her memories will return.  And the young groom refuses to let a little thing like death prevent them from being together.  It seems that there is a magic in calm waters and music that has special powers, too.  “And thereby hangs a tale.”  To discover the outcome, you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

     These young people certainly get an amazing education by being part of the Y/P troupe.  I’ve seen them explore some pretty heady subjects over the years, which give them insight into the adult world of life and literature, and provides a safe environment to explore all these changing moods and emotions Youth must feel, as future “inheritors of the earth.”  This is done in a “black box” style of theatre, where only essential props, costumes and set pieces are used.  The Stones’ outfits were quite compelling, as were the actors playing them.  Enacting the Head Demon himself as a rather snotty little shit with a tricycle, as opposed to the more traditional approach as a bombastic fellow, was quite a welcome change, and well acted by Sanders.

     The Father and the two young lovers have a natural appeal in their style of presentation and pull it off nicely.  Hanover has done a good job of leading this group but the production (possibly script, too) needs tightening a bit, as it seemed to drag a little in spots, and the energy could be kicked up a notch, too.  But, overall, it is good to see some difficult material handled professionally.
I recommend this production.  

     If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


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