From left, Dezirae Zaman, Rosie Avila, Irene Choi, Bonnie Snyder and Mary Paola perform in the Mount Desert Island High School drama production of “Eurydice.” The show will be staged once more, on May 13. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS DOUGHERTY

‘Eurydice’ offers new take on modern Greek tragedy



BAR HARBOR — In all Greek tragedies, the heroes and heroines are done in by their one tragic flaw.

In the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a tale about a musician who braves the underworld to take his bride back up to the world of the living, it is Orpheus’ desire that causes his downfall.

Hades tells Orpheus that he may take Eurydice so long as he does not look back at her until after they pass through the gates of hell. But Orpheus succumbs to his desire to look back at the beautiful Eurydice, and she dies another death.

Playwright Sarah Ruhl’s take on the Greek tragedy, “Eurydice,” turns that tale on its head as it is told from the titular character’s perspective. This strange script is brought to the stage by the Mount Desert Island High School drama department under the direction of Frank Bachman.

Jacob Sanner and Mary Paola perform “Eurydice.” The show will be staged once more at MDI High School, on May 13. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS DOUGHERTY

Ruhl’s 2003 play centers on the romantic love between Eurydice, a sympathetic and graceful Mary Paola, and Orpheus, played with daffy sensibility by Dominic Marino, but also on the love between Eurydice and her dead father, a stoic Jacob Sanner.

In this version, following her wedding, Eurydice is lured into the apartment of A Nasty Interesting Man, a wicked Zach Uliano, with the promise of a letter from her father, who is now living six feet under.

Eurydice attempts to escape the man and falls down the stairs to her death.

She arrives in the underworld via elevator and is welcomed by four stones, Little Stone, Big Stone, Loud Stone and Safe Stone, played with vicious jocularity by Dezirae Zaman, Irene Choi, Bonnie Snyder and Rosie Avila, respectively, who serve as a chorus.

The Lord of the Underworld, a deliciously evil Uliano, takes the form of a little boy on a scooter

All new residents of hell are dipped into Lethe, a river of forgetfulness. So when Eurydice bumps into dear old Dad, she mistakes him for a porter.

Slowly but surely, her father coaxes her into remembering much about her life on earth.

Meanwhile, poor Orpheus makes every attempt to bring his new bride back into the world.

The emotional crux of the play centers on Orpheus’ eventual arrival to the underworld and Eurydice’s reluctance to leave the comfort of being with her father. As with all Greek tragedies, “Eurydice” does not have a happy ending.

The production features several special effects, including a projection screen designed by Piper Charron that changes depending on the scene. Sound effects, designed by Grey Burkhart and operated by Eric Graves, help set the tone from rain to a running river and sad melodies.

An elevator to the underworld with streamers that appear like rain is a creative and interesting set piece designed by Maev Rogers and Carlene Hirsch and executed by crew members Max Cornman, Mason Gurtler, Avila, Sanner, Atty Brown, Aidan O’Connor, Charron, Ana Rogers, Arthur Dwyer, Katera Shelton, Rawl Blackett, Gianna Turk, Raven Radziewicz and Chelsea Thomas.

“Eurydice” takes some concentration as the nonlinear narrative shifts quickly from comedy to tragedy and back and forth in setting. But this MDI Drama production is well worth the brain power.

“Eurydice’s” cast and crew will put on one more production of the play on the Higgins-Demas Theater stage, on Saturday, May 13, at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.

Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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