OGDEN — Katie Evans admits the latest offering from Good Company Theatre, “Eurydice,” might be a tough sell in this town.
Cast in the title role, Evans says she realizes this modern retelling of the Orpheus/Eurydice Greek tragedy isn’t your typical fare for a local theater company. Even her own father, normally supportive of his daughter’s acting career, balked at “Eurydice.”
“He’s usually very supportive, but with this one he said, ‘Mmmm, I don’t know,’” Evans recalls. “I had to encourage my own dad, telling him, ‘You’ll enjoy this — it’s not typical of what I usually do, but you’ll walk away being glad you went.’”
Those same reassurances Evans gives to her father, she extends to a larger audience.
“I guess I would reassure people that it’s not a classical Greek mythology-type play,” she said. “It is modern, and modern audiences would understand it. It speaks to people on all levels and points of view, and will touch even the hardest-hearted audience members.”
The 2003 play, by Sarah Ruhl, is a more modern retelling of the myth of Orpheus from the perspective of his wife, Eurydice. On their wedding day, Eurydice dies and goes to the underworld, where she meets her father. Orpheus eventually comes looking for her, and she faces the decision to stay in the underworld with her father or return to Earth with her husband.
In a 2007 review, New York Times critic Charles Isherwood wrote: “In her weird and wonderful new play, ‘Eurydice,’ the gifted young writer Sarah Ruhl has adapted this mournful legend with a fresh eye, concentrating not on the passionate pilgrimage of Orpheus to retrieve his bride but on Eurydice’s descent into the jaws of death. What she finds there, and what she learns about love, loss and the pleasures and pains of memory, is the subject of Ms. Ruhl’s tender-hearted comedy ...”
Evans says she enjoys “Eurydice” because it stretches her as an actor and forces her to grow into the role.
“I do a lot of comedy, and this has been more of a change and a challenge,” she said. “I’m used to comedic side-buddy roles, so to be put in this dramatic, tragic lover role has been exciting and so different.”
The play calls for a fairly small cast, according to Evans — only seven or eight actors. And she says the director, Nicole Finney, “has done a beautiful job of creating an almost fever-dream atmosphere.”
“But the real beauty of it is it challenges the theater norms that are typical in Utah,” Evans said. “It’s not a British comedy, like ‘See How They Run.’ It’s very touching, and very emotional. It takes me a minute after every run-through to calm myself down.”
Finney, an Ogden resident and graduate of Weber State University, calls the play “very unique, set in a bizarre but enchanting world of energy.” The director relishes both the excitement and challenge of bringing the piece to the stage because her artists get to explore two worlds — the underworld, and the world we know.
The small cast fits in well with the intimate space that is the Good Company Theatre, according to Finney. The room seats only a few dozen patrons.
And “Eurydice” is packed with emotion, both Finney and Evans say.
“Whenever I go to the theater, I love to be moved,” Finney explained. “And I hope that’s the experience audiences have here.”
Also of note, says Evans, is that the Orpheus/Eurydice story isn’t one that’s told very often. Typically, she says, the story is done on a high school level.
“The spin we put on this one is more mature,” Evans said.
Finney confesses she’s always been interested in Greek mythology, which is part of what drew her to this play. And the way Ruhl has reimagined the Greek tragedy makes it even more interesting.
“What struck me with this play is that in Sarah Ruhl’s version, (Eurydice) reconnects with her deceased father,” Finney said. “It’s a play about love and loss, and also the power of memory. It’s not just a play about two young lovers, but also the love between a father and a daughter.”
Even Evans’ somewhat-reluctant father would have to approve of such a storyline.