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Oklahoma City Theatre Company's offbeat take on 'Eurydice' struggles to stay afloat



ails/eurydice-pic2.jpg" width="150" align="right" vspace="10" border="0" />Oklahoma City Theatre Company opens its 11th season with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sara Ruhl's adaptation of the classic Greek myth "Eurydice." It tells the story of Orpheus and his quest to rescue his recently deceased wife, Eurydice, from the underworld.

While keeping some of the myth's characters and basic plot, Ruhl's modern take shifts the focus to Eurydice's experiences in the afterlife, where she is reunited with her father.

The adaptation is an odd duck to begin with, mixing whimsy with somber meditations on life and death, while also bringing elements of Greek mythology into a more contemporary setting. Ranging from the poetic to the pretentious, the tone ends up being pretty scattershot as a result. To say that this would be tough nut to crack for any theater company would be understatement.

Tone really is the Achilles heel of OCTC's production. Director Robyn Arn chose to highlight the lighthearted and comedic aspects of the play, creating some pretty dizzying shifts when things get serious. Even before the play begins, the audience is greeted by happy-go-lucky swing music.

Arn doesn't seem to have a good handle on the cast, who are all over the place in their various takes on the material; none of them bad, just discordant. The result is, unfortunately, a whole lot of awkward.

For a bookworm, Laura Ann Dougharty's Eurydice comes off a little airheaded. Her performance improves greatly in the underworld scenes opposite Mark Loftis, who plays her father with earnest love and patience. Michael Dean Moore is good as the scatterbrained Orpheus early on, doing his best work later as the grieving husband.

In the ridiculously named role of Nasty Interesting Man, David Mays delivers an arch, over-the-top performance that's part cartoon villain, part ventriloquist dummy. He's much more effective and entertaining as the childlike incarnation of Hades.

As the Stones, Rachel Miller, Lana Henson, Anna Holloway act as an underworld chorus. In spite of first impressions, they end up being one of the most successful aspects of the production, both in terms of nailing the offbeat sensibility and communicating more metaphysical ideas.

The blocking along with the sets by Brent Logsdon and the lighting by Scott Hartzog often leaves the stage feeling empty; a little bit of atmosphere would have helped. Things improve as more characters appear and the lighting is used to divide the stage.

Some of the imagery is evocative, and there are scenes during "Eurydice" where everything comes together and you can appreciate Ruhl's vision as brought to the stage by OCTC.

Too often, however, the lack of a unified approach leaves the audience feeling, like Eurydice, a little lost.

Eurydice stages at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. through Nov. 15 presented by the Oklahoma City Theatre Company at Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker.

"?Eric Webb


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