This article was originally published in Amphora (12.1). It has been edited slightly to adhere to current SCS blog conventions.
The story is familiar. Musician marries the love of his life; on their wedding day, she dies. He grieves until he wills his way into the Underworld and is allowed to retrieve her on one condition, which he violates. Thus, even the theme is the same: the fallibility of the human condition and the inability of art to triumph over the persistence of suffering and the finality of death. Nor is Eurydice a strident feminist with a point to prove, after centuries of silent existence as nothing more than a catalyst for the erotic narrative that is the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. For contemporary American playwright Sarah Ruhl, Eurydice is foremost a daughter who learns the hard way that all relationships are constructed of words that cannot always withstand the insistent tensions and demands of parents and spouses. Since language is so deficient, Ruhl deploys light, space, distance, and depth to hone the banal into razor-sharp instruments capable of exposing emotional vulnerabilities most audience members would rather not admit existed. For Ruhl, in the theater space must yield to imagination, not, as in film, the other way around.