Friday, February 24, 2017

Review of TP'S EURYDICE: Weird, Wistful, Whimsical

February 24, 2017

In Greek mythology, Eurydice is the wife of musician Orpheus who died on their wedding day. Orpheus attempted to save her from the underworld and almost succeeded, until he could not help but look back at her before she reached the surface. In 2001, contemporary American playwright Sarah Ruhl wrote a play retelling this myth from the point of view of Eurydice. Tanghalang Pilipino had chosen to stage a Filipino adaptation of Ruhl's play "Eurydice" translated by Guelan Luarca to close its 30th season. 

The first act goes according to the myth. Orpheus and Eurydice get married. However, an Interesting Man tried to seduce Eurydice on her wedding day, which caused her to fall down the stairs and die. In the Underworld though, Eurydice meets her Father, who patiently restored her language and memory. When Orpheus came down to rescue her, Eurydice was torn between going back up to the surface with her husband, or staying down in the underworld with her Father.

This play really had some bizarre scenes with very strange characters, like the tricycle-riding Lord of the Underworld (played by the versatile Jonathan Tadioan, who also played the creepy nasty Interesting Man) and those weirdly manic Stones (small and catty Blanche Buhia, medium and noisy JV Ibesate and big, rotund and jolly Alfritz Blanche). I confess that I did not understand fully what those Stones were supposed to be. I imagined they should be the Greek Chorus of sorts, but they can be cruel and suspiciously psychotic. (Doray Dayao, Aldo Vencilao and Ybes Bagadiong alternate as the Stones.)

Juliene Mendoza, whom I had long admired as an actor for his performances in "Bona" (MY REVIEW), "Lorenzo" (MY REVIEW) and "Rak of Aegis" (MY REVIEW) also gave a riveting performance here as Father. Most of these best scenes in "Eurydice" were silent scenes featuring the Father -- when he imagined walking his daughter down the aisle, when he was building her the house of string, when he dipped himself into the river. (Audie Gemora alternates in this role.)

Marco Viana seems to be the resident romantic leading man among the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Company. Orpheus was an oddly written character. He is portrayed as a uniquely talented musician, yes. But instead of being the perfect lover, he was so temperamental and moody towards Eurydice. At that climactic moment of his great loss, I felt he was angry more than he was despondent, not exactly the emotion I was expecting. 
I first noticed Lhorvie Nuevo's acting skills when she played Helena in TP's Filipino adaptation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (MY REVIEW) last year. As the title character Eurydice, she will grow on you in this play. She may start off as sort of an awkward and naive in that first scene of the two lovers at the beach. However, two hours later before the play ends, she will certainly astound you with a sincere scene of anguished mourning with very deep emotions and real tears.

I was surprised that the play venue was on the very stage of the CCP Little Theater itself, rearranged as an intimate black box theater with bleachers in front and on both sides. The set by director Loy Arcenas was spare with just a raised platform in the middle, and strange red and shiny plants and flowers made of wire and little rings hung from the ceiling. Later, in one of the play's most magical moments, an elevator where it rains inside opens at the back with Eurydice carrying her suitcase and an umbrella to keep her dry --  a very beautifully executed scene indeed, further enhanced by the lights of Barbara Tan-Tiongco and sounds by Teresa Barozzo.

I cannot pretend that I was not puzzled while watching this play unfold. There were some pretty beautifully-staged, emotionally heart-rending scenes, very true. But there were also some head-scratching scenes that did not seem to make any sense and long silences which may lull you. This whole show was all like one long dream with outlandish imagery and offbeat dialogue. This quirkiness aspect may not easily accessible for all audiences to absorb or appreciate, but definitely the feelings of despair, affection and passion will shine through and reach out to you.


"Eurydice" runs at the CCP Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) from February 17 to March 5, 2017, with shows on Fridays at 8PM, Saturdays at 3PM and 8PM, and Sundays at 3PM. 

Tickets cost P1,500 and P1,000, with discounted rates of P750 and P500 for students. For Buy 1 Take 1 tickets this weekend only (Feb 24 8pm, Feb 25 3pm & 8pm, Feb 26 3pm), please call Lei Celestino 0915 6072275 / Alfritz - 0916 5483484 / Phi - 0906 4803330.

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