America playwright Sarah Ruhl wrote this play as a tribute to her recently deceased father, and indeed the major focus is on the relationship between Eurydice (Ebony Vagulans) and her father (Jamie Oxenbould), whom she meets when she is banished on her wedding day to the Underworld.
However, as she has bathed in the river of forgetfulness, she mistakes her father for a porter, providing a missed opportunity for comedy in this production.
Somehow she recovers her memory and when she asks her father to describe her mother, he deflects the question and describes a duck hunting expedition on the Mississippi River instead, thus giving the play a decidedly American twist and leaving me scratching my head. There was even a suggestion that the Mississippi was a river of forgetfulness.
Orpheus (Lincoln Vickery), the mourning husband, is left above ground to write songs he hopes will win Eurydice back from the dark place.
He’d better hurry, because Mr Sleaze himself, the King of the Underworld (Nicholas Papademetriou) has his eye on her.
Eventually Orpheus comes up with an unfortunately unoriginal song in the context (the Stones’ Wild Horses) but even so, his beloved bride is being allowed to return.
After the earlier slow pace of the play, it was invigorating to see how Claudia Barrie ups the tempo with her direction of Alex Malone, Ariadne Sgouros and Megan Wilding, whose heads and upper torsos appear through three trapdoors on stage as stones lying on the ground in Hades. Their moll make-up and chorus provided the wittiest element of the production, and their antics with the puppets at the end stole the show.
Until Dec 15. Old Fitz Theatre, 129 Dowling St, Woolloomooloo. $33-$55+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.redlineproductions.com.au
Reviewed by Irina Dunn