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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 22, 2010

University Theatre Mainstage presents Ruhl's 'Eurydice,' March 4-7, 10-13

eurydiceUniversity Theatres Mainstage will present Sarah Ruhl's "Eurydice," opening at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 4, in the David Thayer Theatre of the UI Theatre Building. Additional performances will be at 8 p.m. March 5, 6 and 10-13, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 7.

Sarah Ballema, who directed a staged reading of the play for the 2009 Iowa Summer Rep festival of Ruhl's work, directs this theatrical spectacle of loss and love, re-imagining the myth of Orpheus retold from the heroine's point of view.

The myth recounts the sorrowful fate of two young lovers: When Eurydice dies suddenly on the day of their wedding and Orpheus is wracked with grief. He goes to the Underworld to retrieve her, but can only take her back to earth on one condition: that he not look back at her on their ascent to the living world. Of course, he does and loses his love for a second time. Calling her play "a love letter to parents," Ruhl revisited the story through the lens of her own father's death, adding a loving presence in the Underworld who gives Eurydice reason to stay dead.

In "Eurydice" a raining elevator delivers a bewildered young bride into the afterlife, where a doting father builds a room for his daughter out of string and an ill-tempered Hades menaces his subjects from a giant tricycle.

Hailed as "weird and wonderful, devastatingly lovely" by the theater critic of the New York Times, "Eurydice" is propelled by ingenious plot twists, an original musical score and stunning visual effects.

"Love and grief, life and death are both endless and tentative, fixed and mutable in the strange world of "Eurydice," the devastatingly lovely - and just plain devastating -- theatrical gloss on the Orpheus myth by the inventive young playwright Sarah Ruhl," Charles Isherwood wrote. "Ruhl's quirky contemporary meditation on a much-meditated-upon story has some of the subliminal potency of music, the head-scratching surprise of a modernist poem and the cockeyed allure of a surrealist painting. It's pretty funny, too.

""Eurydice" is ultimately about the painful choice that comes with the passing of joys and pleasures: whether to remember, in sadness, or to forget, and achieve a calm but emptier equilibrium."

A Pulitzer Prize finalist and recent winner of a MacArthur "genius" grant, Ruhl is fast leaving her mark on the American theater with hundreds of stagings of her plays across the country and abroad. Iowa Summer Rep was the first company to present a festival of her work.

San Francisco theater critic Chad Jones considers Ruhl "a writer so attuned to the human heart that her work may actually be beneficial to your health. Love is a mess, Ruhl tells us. It's dirty (like a good joke), messy and at its best, like really good homemade chocolate ice cream." And Variety observed, "Ruhl's zany probe of the razor-thin line between life and death delivers a fresh and humorous look at the times we live in."

Tickets for the performances are $17; UI student $5; senior citizen $12; youth $10 from the Hancher Box Office.

The Hancher Box Office, now located on the first floor of the south end of the Old Capitol Mall near the parking ramp, is open for phone (319-335-1160 or 800-HANCHER) or walk-up business from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Tickets may be ordered online at Any remaining tickets will be available for sale one hour before show time at the UI Theatre Building.

The Department of Theatre Arts is part of the UI Division of Performing Arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: Exhibitions are searchable at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, University News Services, 319-430-1013,