Poets and playwrights have long fiddled with the tragic story of mythical musician Orpheus and his beloved Eurydice, occasionally going so far as to give the story a happy ending. In "Eurydice," MacArthur "genius" grant winner Sarah Ruhl imposes her own will on the tale, focusing on the title character and introducing a new character - Eurydice's deceased father.

Poets and playwrights have long fiddled with the tragic story of mythical musician Orpheus and his beloved Eurydice, occasionally going so far as to give the story a happy ending. In "Eurydice," MacArthur "genius" grant winner Sarah Ruhl imposes her own will on the tale, focusing on the title character and introducing a new character - Eurydice's deceased father.

In Ohio State University's charming production of Ruhl's 2003 play, a crazed Lord of the Underworld (Paul Moon) lures Mackenzi Flannery's Eurydice to her death on her wedding day, leaving Jared Riley's Orpheus bereft. Rather than concentrating on Orpheus' musically enhanced journey into the Underworld, Ruhl reunites Eurydice with her late father (Cornelius Hubbard Jr.). He reintroduces her to all of the things she enjoyed in life that the waters of forgetfulness had washed from her memory.

A chorus of talking stones (Michelle Golden, John Connor, and Zachary J. Owens) tries to enforce the rules of the Underworld, but Eurydice's father defies them at every opportunity.

As an extra dimension to the original myth, here Eurydice must choose between her father's love and her husband's love.

In her script, Ruhl encourages set designers to think more "Alice in Wonderland" than Hades. OSU's Divya Murthy has complied with a veritable jungle gym of a set: ladders, a slide, a flowing stream of water and an elevator with rain inside. Corrugated metal dominates.

Director Beth Kattelman brings it all together, from the Lewis Carroll absurdity to the heartbreaking echoes of "King Lear."

Matt Hazard photo