Review Fix chats with director Roark Littlefield, who discusses “Eurydice Descending,” currently enjoying a run at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City’s Jewel Box Theatre. Featuring a cool cast and a story almost too bizarre for the stage, the production is definitely enticing.
For more information on the play, click here.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for the production? How did it all come together?
Roark Littlefield: As soon as I read the play I wanted to do it. I loved the fact that, like Karin’s other plays, it explores bathos, the collision of the dramatic and the ridiculously mundane. The humorously banal plot device that the whole play hangs on is initially presented in a comical way, and it sounds funny whenever I tell someone what it is. But Eurydice Descending is much more moving than that, and it is this quality which contrasts nicely with the humor. The method I employed was to break the play down into three separate plays, as if each one of them was a separate portrait of the same woman. Instead of seeing them as three parts of one play I saw them as three different plays and they were rehearsed separately as if they were.
Review Fix: What do you think you’ve learned about yourself through this whole process?
Littlefield: I’ve learned that I really like stories that begin with one emotional color and then shift to emotional colors that are very different. We’ve all seen rather weak comedies in which the wacky setup stops being funny about halfway through but the play keeps going as if it is still hilarious. Karin exploits this and makes it a major theme of the play.
What starts out as humorous and silly becomes something very different by the middle of the play and the audience’s feelings towards what was once comical will change quite a bit. Very few writers have mastered this, Billy Wilder comes to mind. It’s a challenge for a director but it is one that I enjoy.
Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy it the most?
Littlefield: I think people who actually enjoy living, vibrant theatre will enjoy it. It is not a comedy skit. It is a play. It’s a meditation on marriage, which is something most people in the world do and yet hardly anyone seems to devote much thought to what it means. I think fans of Albee and the Absurdists will really love it, as well as anyone who is tired of seeing plays that are essentially live television episodes.
Review Fix: Tell me about the cast. What makes them so special?
Littlefield: Gloria Lamoureux is the principal actor and she is marvelous. Karin and I have wanted to work with her for a while now but she is very busy with other projects and was not available. She threw herself into this project with a great deal of enthusiasm. She is one of the best artists I’ve worked with. Because the play is part of a festival we did not get into the actual performing space until the day of the first performance. I think this was not what Gloria was used to and yet by showtime she owned that space; It was the house in which she lived for years. Diane Diep and Andy Phillips have both worked with us before, and it is enjoyable to see them play characters that are so different than what they did previously. Andy is really a delight, he is a solid professional and he and Gloria both handled some rather difficult moments in the play quite well. Their last scene together is very powerful. I barely directed them at all for that scene.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite element of the show?
Littlefield: The script. I hope I have done it and the actors justice.
Review Fix: Bottom Line. Why should someone see this show?
Littlefield: To experience a very unusual story and to see it brought to life by some very talented actors.
Review Fix: How do you want the production to be remembered?
Littlefield: As one of the most entertaining, thought-provoking and unpredictable plays ever presented at the Midtown International Theatre Festival.