Drunks and Dreamers in Vodka & Eurydice

From l, James Weeks, Caity Engler, and Robert Weiner in "Vodka and Eurydice."

Playwright Rachel Orlikoff shows great promise, in Vodka & Eurydice, straight out of Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real, where every soul is lost, and the  protagonist Abigail (Caity Engler) is the only seemingly ray of hope amidst the desolate environs. It’s an Old West tableau, parallel to Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, where every character is a dead-end alcoholic, seeking oblivion in each others’ company. Abigail is the wistful daughter, surviving a near-death car accident involving her drunk father Charles (Robert Weiner). This incident is an intrinsic part of back-story, with the set revealing a car part sticking out of the ground, a graphic, visual reminder. What I loved most were the constant references to Greek mythology, including the title itself. At show’s start, the old man Charles attempts communication with space shuttle Icarus, who in mythology, tried to fly so high, his wings were singed by the sun and he fell to earth. Two inanimate characters, yet deeply symbolic, are the raccoon, euphemistically called “Ulysses,” and Charles’ beloved guitar, called “Eurydice.” The raccoon is a gadfly of sorts, inspiring Charles to sing his forlorn catch song, “Nightingale,” with his little girl. The music used as segue between each scene captured dramatic, evocative moments beautifully, with the Beatles’ “Let it Be” still lingering. Sally (Jennifer Kenyon) is an obstreperous bar-fly constantly berating Charles, and returning like a puppy dog with tail wagging, begging forgiveness. Ryan (James Weeks) is the young love interest of Abigail,   completely devoted, though she cannot seem to break free of the mold of her dysfunctional upbringing. She tries to do everything right in her life — attending a prestigious New York music college and acquiring great husband material in Ryan, the only teetotaler of the bunch, yet is drawn to the town’s ne’er do well studmuffin, Johnny (Michael Barrett). The show’s end is also symbolic, as she walks off-stage with her dad’s cherished guitar, the two loves of Charles’ sad sack, lonely life. His closing dialogue has sentimental shades of “Our Town,” as he approaches mortality, reaching out again for a conversation with space shuttle Icarus. He asks the ultimate existential question: “Is there more to man’s existence than this?” When you mix a tawdry slice of life, where every character is ensconced with hum drum routines and the first thing on one’s mind is “let’s have a drink,” with the profound elements of forgiveness and redemption  playing strong throughout, the result is this touching, beautiful production. Orlikoff captures each salt of the earth character exquisitely, a heartfelt masterpiece.

Vodka & Eurydice runs through June 24 on
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.
The Mirror Theatre is located at 4934 Lankershim Blvd. For tickets, call
or visit www.plays411.com/vodka.

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