For this review, I share my take on the latest production by Couch Theatre – consisting of young theatre enthusiasts that have consistently endeavoured at one full-length production a year since Melancholy play in 2013. They identify themselves with producing upbeat, offbeat theatre, particularly emphasizing on bringing out an enriching emotional experience for its viewers. Indeed, this vision carries forth in the way they handled Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, a play known for the challenging propositions it presents for set designers and directors alike. Couch finds its own solutions by isolating the experiences of its main characters for the audience, consciously reducing dramatic movement within the performance and willing the audience to observe the intimate encounters between its main characters.
An inviting set design by Izabel Cheng definitely put Eurydice on a good start – with the floating umbrellas, hung inversely in the air, casting shadows of themselves and creating a nice, textured backdrop alluding to a fantastical, topsy-turvy world. It does symbolically imply that the floor is the sky, giving reason to imagine that the concrete flooring, tinted with blue hues of lighting, had to represent the ‘river’ of the underworld. Several closed briefcases stacked upstage contributed to the overall intrigue, each one a mysterious box of potential pandemonium.
The performance itself was peppered with commendable moments – in particular, where Eurydice (Shu Yi Ching) recognizes the name of her husband and her father (Ivan Choong) standing before her, as well as when Orpheus (Uday Duggal) vocalized his letters of grief to the underworld. The relationship between Eurydice and her father was neatly bookended with a solemn, heavy-hearted farewell. A well executed climax of the two tragic lovebirds overlapping each other’s dialogue in their short-lived reunion, along with the sustained commitment of the Three Stones (Adi Jamaludin, Jasmine Blundell and Natalie Yeap), were also worthy of credit.
All that being said, the production fell short of bringing out the phantasmagoria of the underworld, with some critical challenges left without response – such as the presentation of an ultra-dynamic Lord of the Underworld (Ejaz Latiff) who dramatically grows and shrinks at will, a more pronounced representation (however abstract) of the River of Forgetfulness, and the sustained functionality of the ‘raining elevator’ and faucet Ruhl’s play demands. With various avenues to move forward, I trust that Couch Theatre would seize the value of process, and show more refinement and finesse in their directorial choices in future!
By Michael N. for Bakchormeeboy
Eurydice plays at the Drama Centre Black Box until 25 September. Tickets available from SISTIC.