FARMINGTON — Audiences will be guided through the mysterious, watery and symbolic caverns of the underworld as San Juan College's theater department presents "Eurydice," a play by Sarah Ruhl that retells the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

The department will bring the ancient love story to the stage beginning Friday.

In the story, Eurydice dies on the day of her wedding to the musician Orpheus. Her death leads her distraught new husband to play such mournful music that he is allowed to travel to the underworld to retrieve her.

Ruhl's "Eurydice" examines the tale, not from Orpheus' viewpoint, but rather from the perspective of Eurydice. Struggling with the decision to leave the underworld and return to her husband or to remain with her father, with whom she has been reunited in the afterlife, "Eurydice" is spiced with symbolic imagery, drama, and humor.

"The play addresses, in the most fantastical of ways, the difficulty of a woman's transition into marriage," says Mollie Mook-Fiddler, San Juan College's new theater director. "We see Eurydice grapple with the internal struggle that comes with having her primary relationship replaced. She has to symbolically leave her father behind in order to become someone's wife."

The set of "Eurydice" includes special features such as a "pool of forgetfulness" and a watery elevator, which create a mysterious subterranean effect.


Tim Burton-esque outfits, designed by costumer Linann Easley, add to the otherwordly quality of the play.

"This play presents a very surreal world where all the rules are a little different," said Alex Winterle, who plays Orpheus. "The story is about life and death and love, and it comes off seeming even bigger than the things that are implied. There are incredibly creative, lovely, and funny little things about this show."

Mariah Culpepper, who plays Eurydice, has enjoyed being a part of Mook-Fiddler's first San Juan College production.

"This is more dramatic than anything I've ever done," she said, adding that it is more realistic, in terms of the emotions expressed.

Zach Tecca, who plays the lord of the underworld, remarks on the dreamy quality of the production.

"It's the most surreal thing I've ever done," he said.

Three talking "stones" act as narrators throughout the play, providing a comic contrast to the dramatic story line. Pam Breithaupt plays one of the stones.

"It's really been a challenge having to artistically work in sync with the other two stones," she said. "It's a most unusual role, and I love all the little creative things Mollie has encouraged us to do."

Mook-Fiddler further describes the play as being similar to stepping into an Alice In Wonderland-like reality, as the audience is led into the world of Eurydice's unconscious.

"With talking stones and raining elevators, the play feels like a dream," she said.

"Eurydice" will be performed at the San Juan College Little Theater at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday this week and next. An additional showing will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21.

Call 505-566-3430 for ticket information.