EURYDICE, dead, portrayed by a Barbie doll
PERSEPHONE, a young woman, Queen of the Underworld. Carries a snake.
HADES, King of the Underworld. Of indeterminate age.
ORPHEUS, a poet. Handsome, even pretty.
Note: the actor who plays Persephone will also operate Eurydice as a puppet, moving her around and speaking her lines.
The Underworld, land of the Dead
EURYDICE and PERSEPHONE are onstage.
PERSEPHONE: (to snake) Poor Eurydice. She came here on a snakebite. From what I understand, it wasn't even a very big snake. Still, once the fangs pierce the skin, there's not a whole lot you can do. The venom races to the brain, and one by one, the nerve cells die, overwhelmed by poison. Terrible, isn't it, sweetheart? Look at her. Poor thing. Her lips are purple. The eyes have gone black. And her skin is cold as marble.
Welcome to hell, Eurydice.
A knock on the door.
Another knock on the door.
PERSEPHONE: Don't answer it.
HADES: (to door) Just a minute!
PERSEPHONE: Don't let him in.
HADES: It's her boyfriend.
PERSEPHONE: I know who it is, and I know what you're doing. Don't let him in.
HADES: Why not?
PERSEPHONE: She doesn't deserve it.
HADES: And who put you in charge?
HADES: I am King. (to door) Come in!
PERSEPHONE picks up EURYDICE and hides her as ORPHEUS enters.
ORPHEUS: Your majesty. I have come on an urgent—
HADES: I know why you've come, Orpheus. You want your girlfriend back.
HADES: Sure, wife. I know your type. You're in love. And when she went away, it broke your heart. Believe me. I know your story.
ORPHEUS: It wasn't her time. You stole her away from me.
HADES: Take it up with the Fates. I'm just the collection agency.
ORPHEUS: But you have her now.
HADES: Yes, I do. I have all the dead.
ORPHEUS: She doesn't belong here.
HADES: Well then tell me what on earth was she doing dancing barefoot in a grassy field? Did she think the snakes would get up and dance with her? Why didn't she just ask to be bitten? She's here for a reason. Either she was looking for trouble or she was missing a few parts upstairs. Picked yourself a winner, didn't you, kid?
ORPHEUS: This is my girlfriend you're talking about, Mister, and I don't appreciate those remarks.
HADES: What are you doing? Are you trying to start something?
ORPHEUS: I want you to apologize for those remarks—
HADES: Are you kidding me? You've got to be kidding.
ORPHEUS: —about Eurydice. I loved her. And you stuck up bastard, I should—
HADES: Come on. What? Go ahead.
ORPHEUS: (attacking) Motherfucker!
HADES: (laughing, holding Orpheus off): What are you doing? I'm death. The end. Absolute death. That's me. This is the Underworld. I'm King here. Can you believe this guy? Orpheus, I could snap every bone in your body with a blink of my eye. So don't fuck with me.
PERSEPHONE: Why don't you do it, then? It's obviously what he came here for.
HADES: Sorry, kid. I told you, I know your type. If I had a dime for every brokenhearted swishy poet who said he'd die just to hold his sweetheart once again. I'll tell you something: I'd be more impressed if they promised never to open their mouths again.
ORPHEUS: I'll never open my mouth to sing again. I'll never sing again if you let me have her.
HADES: Shut up. You and I both know that would be a waste. You've got the voice. And that song. The one you sang to get in here... wow. Usually I'm one for silence but your song. Your song mourning Eurydice was so... full of grief, of longing, of pure love and heartache. It was the most romantic thing I've ever heard.
PERSEPHONE: You're a pushover.
HADES: Some people would give their lives to hear music like that.
PERSEPHONE: She did.
HADES: And the music. You're pretty good with that harp.
HADES: I like you, Orpheus, I do. And I don't like many people. No, you keep your voice. Keep your music.
ORPHEUS: Then kill me. Let me stay here.
ORPHEUS: My life is nothing without her. I need to have her by my side. She is my muse, my inspiration.
HADES: Take her, then.
HADES: Go ahead, take her with you on your way out. Go. I don't want you hanging out down here. Consider it a trade. You gave me a song, I gave you your girl.
PERSEPHONE: She's dead. She belongs here.
HADES: Orpheus, turn around. Eurydice will follow you. Walk straight out of here and don't look back. Should your gaze fall upon your love before you reach the Upper World, you will lose her again. For good. Do you understand?
Exit HADES. ORPHEUS begins to walk, followed by EURYDICE.
EURYDICE: How on earth did you manage it, my love?
ORPHEUS: I sang for you. I played my harp.
ORPHEUS: I missed you so much. Without you my days had no joy. No light. No breath. My heart was crushed into dust, and in that dust, pain. Pain which burned, stirring the embers of your memory into flames of inspiration and song burst forth clear and pure from my suffering. My voice proclaimed you absence with such desire and such clarity of emotion that the ground itself opened up to lead me to your still form.
ORPHEUS: My love, my song stilled the demons of the darkness, it paid the toll and ferried me across the Styx and the Lethe. Even Cerberus, too, stilled her barking at my lamentation. Would that the heavens and earth cease all their toils to hear my grief, and they did.
EURYDICE: (simultaneously, while ORPHEUS continues) My love? Excuse me, sweetie? Can I ask you something? I know... I just need to ask you. Will you, will you listen to me? Can you please just listen to me for one minute? Don't be like this, Orpheus. This is just like before. Can you just...? Why can't you? Look, please...
ORPHEUS: Never in all my days since Apollo gave me my instrument had I sung so well. No, even the joy of our union, blessed by Hymen, could not match the perfection of my grief. From suffering, art. Do you see? True and pure art from the confused and empty hallways of loss. Who would have thought human suffering so capable, so full of potential, as to bring back the dead? I've done it. I've brought you back, Eurydice. My entire career, my entire life has been spent for this triumphant day, my performance, on which everything was riding, and I did it. I brought you back.
EURYDICE: Look at me!
ORPHEUS: My love?
EURYDICE: Goddamn you, Orpheus. Turn around and look at me.
ORPHEUS: I can't do that.
EURYDICE: What do you think of me, really? No, wait. What do you feel? For me? Deep down, Orpheus, do you feel anything at all for me?
ORPHEUS: I... love... you.
ORPHEUS turns and looks at her.
Exit ORPHEUS, singing.
PERSEPHONE passes EURYDICE to HADES.
PERSEPHONE: You knew. You knew all along, didn't you?
HADES: I know what I'm doing.
PERSEPHONE: You're not such a pushover after all.
HADES: I did like his song.
PERSEPHONE: You're an old softie.
HADES: And a sucker for the harp.
HADES: Sometimes it just gets too quiet down here.
PERSEPHONE: Why did you have to put her through all this?
HADES: I had my reasons.
PERSEPHONE: Good reasons?
HADES: Reasons enough. Hell, I am king.