Author: Jill Kimball

CU Theatre’s ‘Eurydice’ flips an ancient myth on its head

An original production directed by Niki Tulk sheds new light on the tragic love story.

The University of Colorado’s theatre season continues with “Eurydice” by Sarah Ruhl, a poetic, emotionally powerful retelling of a 2,000-year-old Greek myth. The play runs Dec. 6-10 in the intimate Loft Theatre.

In the original myth, Orpheus mourns his beloved wife Eurydice’s death and resolves to visit her in the underworld. Hades agrees to let the two lovers meet again, as long as Orpheus vows not to look at Eurydice. In the end, the lovesick demigod can’t help but sneak a glance, and he loses his wife forever.

Sarah Ruhl’s play flips the myth’s narrative on its head and makes Eurydice the narrator. In Ruhl’s retelling, Eurydice meets her long-lost father in the underworld and is forced to choose between familial love and romantic love.

Niki Tulk, who directs the CU production, says that to her the play is about “the near impossibility of two people being able to love each other simply, without any complications.”

Anyone who’s ever been in love understands that romantic relationships never exist in a vacuum, as much as we wish they did. They’re often strained by family relationships, stress at work or big life changes. “Each one of us is going to resonate with the sadness Eurydice feels at being separated from someone she loves, no matter what choice she makes,” Tulk says. “It’s part of all of us.”

With her choice to cast Eli Davis, a non-binary actor, in the role of Orpheus, Tulk has made clear that “all of us” includes those of all gender identities and sexualities. “Myths are timeless because the stories invite connection with everyone,” she says. “This story can be about any two people who love each other.”

Tulk is equally democratic in the way she plans productions. From sets and lighting to music and acting, she believes no one element of a performance is more important than the other. The yearning, melodic music, the ensemble of silent actors and the sparse red and white sets, inspired by both Eastern culture and 1950s American decor, all work together to create the play’s strange, sad universe.

“It will be an incredibly beautiful space,” Tulk says. “It should feel like walking into a Zen meditation room where something’s gone wrong. This isn’t a space that’s alive, and it should be.”

Tulk, who last season premiered her solo show “Ophelia | Leaves” at CU’s ATLAS Black Box Theater and also directed “She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange” at square product theatre, says she’s honored to be part of an experimental and female-focused season at CU Theatre.

“We’re exploring a different type of theater this season, and it’s more non-linear, more mythic and imaginative,” she says. “That’s not to say it’s highbrow or difficult to understand. It’s the same imagery we see in our dreams at night. So let’s dream during the day, together, in this space.”