by Nat Frothingham
MONTPELIER — Two very different plays, “Eurydice” by American poet and playwright Sarah Ruhl, and the classic coming-of-age adventure story “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson and adapted for the stage by Kim Bent, founding artistic director of Montpelier-based Lost Nation Theater, will open the 2015 season of plays and events.
The plays will be presented in an alternating pattern with “Eurydice” opening on Thursday, April 15, and “Treasure Island” opening on April 23. After each production’s opening week, the performances will then play alternately through May 17. Be sure to check the schedule closely.
“Eurydice” is Sarah Ruhl’s retelling from a female perspective of the deeply affecting Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. According to the myth, Orpheus and Eurydice fall deeply in love. But on their wedding day Eurydice dies of a fatal snake bite, leaving Orpheus stricken in his grief.
According to the myth, Orpheus is endowed with magical musical powers. He can sing and play the lyre with such grace and beauty that he can — according to an online source — “charm the birds, fish and wild beasts, coax the trees and rocks into dance, and divert the course of rivers.”
Overpowered by the loss of Eurydice, Orpheus descends into the underworld to beg the lord of the underworld for her life. So great is the power of his music that he prevails, and the lord of the underworld grants him his wish. He will be permitted to lead Eurydice up from the underworld into the land of the living. But there is one condition. He must never look back on Eurydice as he travels up out of the underworld. In the last step or two of his journey out of the underworld he can’t resist. He looks back on the woman he loves and she is taken from him forever.
Bent took pains to note that the Ruhl is also a poet and her gift for poetry infuses the Eurydice production. Bent described her script as “lovely and light” and called the play “lyrical and poetic.”
“This production brings all these things together,” said Bent, and it employs exciting theatrical elements. These include a nine-member women’s chorus and the use of aerial fabrics for acrobatics. “They dance in the air to music. It’s the quintessential love story,” Bent said.
Writing about a June 2011 production of “Eurydice” at the Second Stage Theater in New York City, New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood describes Ruhl’s play as an adaptation “with a fresh eye, concentrating not on the passionate pilgrimage of Orpheus to retrieve his bride but on Eurydice’s descent into the jaws of death. What she finds there, and what she learns about love, loss, and the pleasures and pains of memory,” Isherwood writes, “is the subject of Ms Ruhl’s tender-hearted comedy … a rhapsodically beautiful production.”
Bent feels that “Treasure Island” will be a wonderful contrast with “Eurydice.”
“I think it’s one of the most adapted and ripped off stories in the world,” Bent said. It is a story involving a mutiny, pirates, a map of buried treasure, sword fights, and pistols. Underlying the colorful speech and action is the story of a boy who grows up. At the beginning you have Jim Hawkins as a boy. At the end you see the young man. “He’s the central figure,” said Bent.
Looking out at the 2015 line up, Bent sees a “season of anniversaries.” The anniversaries? Well, first there is “Stone” — a keenly remembered portrait of the men and women whose spirit and toughness created in Barre “the granite center of the world. “Stone,” written by Bent, is to be presented this summer beginning on July 23 as part of a 10th anniversary revival. Then this fall, the theater will perform “As You Like It” — a Shakespeare play that was first presented by Lost Nation 20 years ago. “As You Like It” opens on October 1.
As part of the 2015 season, at each opening night the theater will honor a special person or persons. When “Eurydice” opens on April 16, Lost Nation will honor Joanne Greenberg and Liz Snell, who teamed up to create what Bent called “one of the strongest, if not the strongest, high-school theater programs in the state over 33 years.”
For further information, visit www.lostnationtheater.org.
Showtimes for Eurydice and Treasure Island at Lost Nation Theater, Montpelier City Hall, 39 Main St., Montpelier. 229-0492. lostnationtheater.org:
Thursday, April 16, 7 p.m.
Friday, April 17, 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 18, 2 p.m.
Saturday, April 18, 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 19, 2 p.m.
Thursday, April 30, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 2, 8 p.m.
Friday, May 8, 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 9, 2 p.m.
Sunday, May 10, 2 p.m.
Thursday, May 14, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 16, 8 p.m.
Thursday, April 23, 7 p.m.
Friday, April 24, 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 25, 2 p.m.
Saturday, April 25, 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 26, 2 p.m.
Friday, May 1, 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 2, 2 p.m.
Sunday, May 3, 2 p.m.
Thursday, May 7, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 9, 8 p.m.
Friday, May 15, 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 16, 2 p.m.
Sunday, May 17, 2 p.m.