Chantilly High School
From books to bedtime stories, the query of what comes after life, if anything, looms. The true enigma, though, surrounds the art of mourning the abstract-- love's echoing music-- when it disappears indefinitely. Colgan High School's production of Eurydice was an achingly human embodiment of the discomfort in desolation.
First produced at the Madison Repertory Theatre in 2003 before flourishing into an Off-Broadway phenomenon four years later, Eurydice pays homage to the mythological classic through its nature-drawn heroine, who must reconcile with a premature fate in the Underworld. Trapped by a triad of stones and a glimmering sea, Eurydice maneuvers through shattered recollections of a lost lover, renewed father-daughter fondness, and tension with a relentless man who, quite literally, rules her world. As the play progresses, the dissonance between realms of the living and dead grows, making even the afterlife too much baggage to bear.
Colgan's rendition of the tale was a revitalized commentary on marriage, femininity, and grief. An irrefutable standout, Ainsley McNatt portrayed Eurydice with an enamoring blend of girlish curiosity and grounded intensity. Not only did McNatt splendidly develop Eurydice's gradual, unrestrained rage throughout the show, but she also sharply shifted Eurydice's tone and cadence when confronted with each character, highlighting trauma's imprint on her expression. Of course, because weddings are for fathers and daughters, an earnest paternal force is essential in balancing the stage picture. As Eurydice's father, Brandon White exceeded such a threshold with detailed countenances that exhibited everything from quiet longing for his daughter to profound helplessness preceding his final demise.
Despite the play centralizing a female perspective, male love interests remain pivotal to Eurydice's burgeoning self-concept, which relies on the caliber of courtesy she receives in relationships. From the first breath, Wyatt Unrue distinguished Orpheus's sincere respect for Eurydice by maintaining a deliberate physical distance from her despite intimate dialogue. Conversely, Kai Minskey filled the room with eeriness and unease in his portrayal of Nasty Interesting Man. Minsky's constant, strategic movement ensured that he remained in jumpscare-worthy sight lines at every turn! Portraying yet another hostile prospective husband, Jaron Curtis achieved a prominent contrast between silly sarcasm and sinister demands: choices reminiscent of the myth, but with a refreshing twist.
Morphing a frenzy of characters into one cohesive ensemble, technical elements warranted applause. The set, fabricated by Ziad Afifi and Kaydin Andruzzi, maintained versatile simplicity, with blocks of various sizes and angles representing the playground of curiosity that is nature. Characters stood on such edges whether in wonder or danger-- whether peering at the horizon or falling to their death. When addressing the play's motif of mortality, the set's clever dispersion of glitter for water was spellbinding, illustrating water's eventual role as a graceful killer. Using the entire space-- including the audience-- as a storytelling device, stage crew Maddie Niles and Judy Ortiz embraced pockets of silence and darkness to facilitate seamless scene transitions, especially between Earth and the Underworld. Makeup team Emma Hughes and Desirae Brown utilized face and body paint to unify the Stones while maintaining each of their quirks. Their integrity to the story was further evident through Nasty Interesting Man's red lip, which foreshadowed later lines regarding treacherous lovers.
Though mythical interpretations of Eurydice have circulated for centuries, students of Colgan High School mastered a divinely feminine angle on the fable, illustrating the still-universal strife in finding solace from the past. Whimsical yet honest, Eurydice reminded audiences to cherish the gift of their intuition and never look back.
Robinson Secondary School
After death, how do you remember the ones you love? "Eurydice," performed by Colgan High School, explores this question. Learning to remember, and remembering to forget.
"Eurydice," premiered in 2003 and written by Sarah Ruhl, tells the tale of the classic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Instead of focusing on the treacherous journey of Orpheus, however, the story is told through Eurydice's perspective via her travels in life and death. Performed in their black box, Colgan created an intimate experience that showcased the strong acting and unique technical design choices.
Ainsley McNatt put her heart on the stage as Eurydice. On a journey into the land of the dead with magic rocks and odd, interesting characters, McNatt gave a genuinely human performance for the audience to latch onto. She showed detail in her acting, down to the smallest mannerisms of her darting eyes and fidgeting fingers. No matter what the Underworld or the living world threw at her, she kept on going, and McNatt stood tall, never wilting. Her natural chemistry with her co-stars filled the room when no lines were being spoken, making the moments Eurydice wasn't comfortable all the more noticeable. The best example of this was the yin and yang between the easy, peaceful silence between Orpheus (Wyatt Unrue) and Eurydice in the first scene and the foreboding tension in the silence between her and the Nasty Interesting Man (Kai Minskey) and The Stones later in the play.
The Stones (Genesis Graves, Faith Bradley, Julia Sapack) served as the Greek chorus in the show. They dissuaded Eurydice from trying to remember her life with militant force. The actors worked well as an ensemble, speaking together, moving together, and having the same overarching goal. However, each Stone embodied their own character. Big Stone (Genesis Graves) had the most expressive nature, showing outward disgust and confusion about Eurydice's antics during her stay in the Underworld. Loud Stone's (Julia Sapack) intentions seemed to be more out of frustration rather than Big Stone's childlike naïveté. Little Stone (Faith Bradley) was the softest of the Stones, balancing out the trio.
The set created by Colgan's Tech Production Class, while minimal, had great versatility throughout the show. A door at the back of the stage was used for communications between the living and dead and as an entrance to the Underworld. Four large blocks, a set of stairs, and a slide worked as various elements from scene to scene. The simplicity gave the actors more space to move around in the confines of the black box and made transitions between settings easier. A slide transformed from a chaise lounge at the beach to the point from which Eurydice fell to her death. The entire set was covered in poured paint to create a dripped watercolor effect, inspired by the threat of the River Styx through the play, and also created a dreamy mood onstage.
Stage Management (Gwen Bronder, Desirae Brown, Hailey Vuong) kept the production on track from start to finish. During rehearsals, the stage manager had conversations with the actors, helping them give performances that were spot-on and true to their characters. During the show, stage management made sure every prop, light, sound, and acting cue happened when and where it was supposed to. As a testament to their hard work, the show ran smoothly and without a hitch.
Colgan's performance of "Eurydice" handled a story of death, memory, and love with artistic care and creativity. All the hard work of the cast and crew came together to create a poetic, visually beautiful, and touching piece of theater.