From left, A.J. Baldwin as Big Stone, Rebecca Ho as Little Stone and Amber McNew as Loud Stone in “Eurydice” at Theater at Monmouth. Photo by Kat Moraros Photography

Making their way across the parking lot toward historic Cumston Hall, audience members for a matinee performance at the Theater at Monmouth were greeted with a torrential downpour that must have, at least temporarily, caused them to forget the intense August heat that preceded it.

Coincidently, the theater was finishing up its summer repertory season titled “It’s Greek (and Roman) To Me!” with an updated version of a classic Greek myth very much concerned with themes of memory and loss, all drenched in magical waters of forgetfulness.

Playwright Sarah Ruhl’s 2003 work “Eurydice” focuses on the heroine’s side of the legend of young newlyweds Orpheus and Eurydice. Separated by the latter’s death and confounded by an enigmatic afterlife, they struggle with emotionally deep questions that mightily test them.

Eurydice is lured by a mischievous Lord of the Underworld on the promise of a possible letter the Lord has from Eurydice’s long dead and much-missed father. Soon dead herself, Eurydice takes a ride on an elevator in which it rains forgetfulness to a realm where three mysterious Stones form a sometimes ominous, sometimes hilarious, chorus warning her to avoid trying to remember her prior life.

Having temporarily lost language ability and memory, Eurydice at first fails to recognize her father or retain clear memories of Orpheus. Surreal, poetic moments, often occasioned by touching letters which somehow traverse the distance between the living and the dead, give this sweet, gentle, spellbinding play its unusual charm. Questions of love and loss linger long after the final bows are taken.

The production, directed by Dawn McAndrews (with imaginative sets and costumes by Dan Bilodeau and Michelle Handley, respectively), takes its time gathering it all into an intimate, 80-minute production (without intermission) that welcomes melancholy reflection. Lightened with just enough well-placed laughs, the play mostly maintains a certain uneasy stillness about it.


Jamie Saunders is a sweet, ingenuous Eurydice, determined to puzzle out what may ultimately be beyond human understanding. Thomas Ian Campbell is the lovesick musician Orpheus who looks back too soon on an unfulfilled romance. Both performers know how to quietly pull at the heartstrings.

Michael Dix Thomas is the earnest dad whose paternal emotions seem “subversive” to the Stones’ unsentimental way of thinking. Rebecca Ho, Amber McNew and A.J. Baldwin each add comedically creepy mannerisms to those roles (becoming almost a show in themselves) while Trezure Coles, as the Lord of the Underworld, humorously steals scenes (as she did in “Lysistrata” earlier in the repertory season). Subtle lighting (SeifAllah Salotto-Cristobal) and sound (Rew Tippin) add to the dreamy tone of the play.

The hot sunlight having returned, only a few small puddles were left in the parking lot to remind audience members of their soggy arrival at the theater. Memories of this unusual play, so well done, will likely linger longer.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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