BY DANIELLE BETTENDORF – STAFF WRITER
Tennessee Williams’ play “Orpheus Descending” premiered at Susquehanna on April 21. Three more performances will follow on April 22, April 23 and April 24, all at 7:30 p.m.
“Orpheus Descending” is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus, now set in a small southern town. When Lady Torrance, a middle-aged store owner, finds herself attracted to Val Xavier, a new musician in town, she considers the possibility of new life with him.
As the play is based off the myth, there are references in the show to the original work.
“I hope [viewers] get the metaphorical references to the actual story of Orpheus,” said junior Meaghan Wilson, who plays Nurse Porter.
“It’s a really cool Greek myth about a hero that descends into hell and rescues his love, but his love doesn’t follow the rules and is forced to stay forever, and it’s kind of a really sad story.”
Senior Abby Benecke said, “It’s definitely an emotional and moving journey through human passions.”
Val Xavier and Lady Torrance are portrayed by seniors Steven Gebhardt and Christina Ungaro, respectively.
“[Ungaro] and [Gebhardt] have worked harder than anyone,” said Wilson. “They have a whole lot of dialogue that they had to get down, [and] Christina has to do an Italian accent, which is pretty difficult to keep up for that long.”
First-year Daniel Reynolds, who plays David Cutrere, the ex-lover of Lady, said: “These are two actors that have been in the department all four years. This is what some people and what our director is saying might be their pivotal performance of their college career, so [it’s] really big stuff to look forward to.”
“We’re a fairly large cast by [Susquehanna] standards,” Wilson said. “Usually we see like six to 10 [performers]. We’re dealing with about 20 cast members, so it’s really awesome to see this collaborative effort from everybody.”
THE CRUSADER / MICHAELLA CURRIE
“One of the things that I really appreciate about this show is that it’s very aesthetically pleasing,” said Reynolds. “All of Tennessee Williams’ writing in this show is very poetic and very metaphorical, and our stage team has done a fantastic job of bringing this world to life through that sort of encrypted poetic description of what this town looks like and what this shop looks like.”
While adapted from a tragedy, Wilson saidthere is optimism to be found in the play.
“The ending is a sad ending, as would be alluded to the metaphor, but I think it’s ultimately hopeful in that things can change, [and] we just need to be the driving force to change them,” Wilson said.
The play also comments on more American themes, such as racism in the South.
Junior Kailee Nelson, who plays Mrs. Dubinsky, said: “[It’s] important that it’s set in the South in the past, and it’s fairly racist.
We’re clearly not agreeing with the racism that goes on but rather showing it as something that did exist.”
The play also deals with multiple complex issues and themes, according to Reynolds.
“Another thing that people might need to consider before they come in is that this show is not necessarily weighty in terms of real controversial emotional things, but this show is very weighty in terms of just having a lot to digest through the text and through the dialogue,” said Reynolds. “At first it can be pretty baffling, but at its core it really does transfer beautifully through Tennessee’s