Transatlantic Love Affair’s emilie/eurydice is a difficult show to describe. This is not due to a particular complexity of plot – the scenario is fairly straightforward – but due to the impossibility of pinning what makes this show so moving on a single part. Many elements that by themselves might have been merely incidental or fluff combine to create an unusually resonant drama and cathartic journey.
For those not familiar with TLA’s previous work, the world of emilie/eurydice follows the company’s normal balance of using set pieces, backdrops, props, and sound effects acted out in real time by the cast. This dramatic device is amusing at first, but as the story marches on this transforms from clever gimmick to an integral expressive medium. The tension and posture of human bodies across the stage is often inspired and always powerfully emotive. Parsing out where an individual actor’s contribution begins and ends is a difficult task, especially given the ensemble creation of the piece. Let it thus be said that Isabel Nelson’s conception of the work has been brilliantly realized, and that the best way to understand why is to see it yourself.
The live music, arranged and provided by Emily Dantuma’s cello and array of effects pedals, deserves special mention for its important role in heightening emotional tensions. The incorrect credit of Saint-Saëns’ Le Cygne to Satie in the program is the only criticism worth mentioning.
Transatlantic Love Affair’s emilie/eurydice runs through Nov. 21 at the Illusion Theater.
Basil was named one of Musical America's 30 Professionals of the Year in 2017.