Trojan Women Redux
nytheatre.com review by Jane Titus
January 28, 2011
Co-Op Theatre East's production of Trojan Women opened this weekend. The show has been placed in modern times, with references to the human slave trade that exists today. The script is largely the original Euripides with a few monologues to fill out and help develop the sex trafficking theme.
Overall, the production values work well. Media by Danny Abalos has been added and there is a back wall of what looks to be white-washed cement blocks upon which various images are projected. The costuming by Ashley Marinaccio is simple, which lends itself to the play and production. The lighting designed by Nicholas Houfek supports the action of the play well. The music and sound design by Kaze Patricio Chan seamlessly merges with the action of the play. The space itself is well utilized by the movement director Elizabeth Elkins.
The challenge of the piece is bringing the declamatory language of Euripides to life in our deeply psychological age. The language here describes and reveals state of mind but does not work in the same way our 21st language does. This production varies in its success addressing this issue. The pacing is fluid for the show, with good changes in tone and variety, but still there was a certain flagging of the energy and attack as the play progressed. As the language of the play can sound generalized to the modern ear, so the modern actor can sometimes generalize their actions. That is why in the Greek texts it is crucially important to be even more specific in your choices.
The acting is committed and passionate. Anna Savant, as Hecuba, has the demanding job of carrying the grief in this play from beginning to end. She is compelling and moving when all the pieces of the production come together. Each of the featured actors—Hannah Rose Barfoot as Cassandra, Amy Chang as Andromache, Lillian Rodriguez as Helen, and Chris Ryan as Menelaus—brings their own passion and insight to their roles. The chorus—Kerrie Bond, Theresa Christine, Samantha Cole, Tiff Roma, and Allison Faye Shelley—and Michael Rehse as Talthybius sustain the action of the play throughout.
All in all, this is an interesting interpretation of Euripides's play about the consequences of war as it is borne by the women who survive. One of the themes always present in Euripides is his portrayal of outcasts and people who are disempowered by the dominant society. Perhaps just being a woman would be enough—although the plight of women was even worse in Greek times. If this show had been set in modern day Iran or Afghanistan with the soldiers taking the women off being American soldiers, it would have added that final layer of controversy that Euripides intended for his script.