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Review: ‘Eurydice’ at Hayworth Theatre

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A détente between poetry and impertinence graces ‘Eurydice’ at the Hayworth Theatre. Sarah Ruhl’s delicate surrealist study of the Orpheus myth from the perspective of his wife is one of the playwright’s loveliest works, and its Range View Productions staging is appreciable, although the detailed precision exacts a price.

Since its 2003 Madison Rep premiere, ‘Eurydice’ has become a regional favorite. Les Waters’ celebrated Berkeley Rep mounting traveled first to Yale Rep, then off-Broadway in 2007, the year that Circle X staged the work at Inside the Ford to much acclaim.

Devotees may admire director Trevor Biship’s resourceful approach to Ruhl’s free-associative narrative, which springs some sly twists on Ovid’s scenario. Production designer Amy Maier frames it within a faux-proscenium of red water pipes, where an aqua-toned central unit delineates time and space in kabuki-screen fashion.

Conjoined with Elisha L. Griego’s mercurial lighting panels, Megan MacLean’s playful costumes and Adam Phalen’s fluid sound cues, the physical realization is striking in the manner of high-end theater festivals.

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Taken on Ruhl’s specific archetypal terms, the cast is intelligent and proficient. Dina Percia conveys appealing presence and energy as the recidivist heroine, while an initially collegiate Erwin Tuazon grows by the scene as Orpheus. Trevor H. Olsen exudes rapt sensitivity as Eurydice’s dead father, even if such sequences as his building her a room of string in Hades here favor kinetic expression over visceral effect.

Despite a personal quality that tends to irony rather than menace, Clayton Shane Farris gives his all as conduit to and ruler of the underworld. Leonard Zanders, Lauren Birriel and Raymond Lee make gruffly entertaining, George Romero-flavored talking stones.

Still, what goes missing -- the emotional pull that even a quirky postmodern tragicomedy needs to expose its depths -- is crucial. It’s a respectable effort, yet one ultimately more efficient than affecting.

-- David C. Nichols

‘Eurydice,’ Hayworth Theatre, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends May 16. $25. (323) 960-7726. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.


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