Saturday, May 31, 2008

Trojan a "Must See"

A review of The Trojan Women by Sharon Malvern at the Stratford Beacon Herald:

"A powerful, intense production of The Trojan Women proves that a 2400-year-old drama can still grip an audience.

"Euripides’ play is as fresh as today’s newspaper headlines in depicting the tragic consequences of war, the effects on the victors and the victims, and the suffering of innocent women and children.

"It’s a story both timely and timeless, a theme that director Marti Maraden and designer John Pennoyer skilfully underscored in the choices they made for costumes and overall effects.

"Highlighted by an extraordinary performance by Martha Henry as Hecuba, a strong cast delivers the lyrical lines with passion and clarity.

"The well-known Greeks’ trick, a wooden horse stuffed with soldiers to get inside the walls of Troy, led to a massacre.

"After the city fell to its conquerors, Poseidon appears (in 20th century naval uniform) to lament the devastation of the once glorious city and its heroes.

"Joined by the goddess Pallas Athena ( in a power suit) who helped the Greeks but is now angry at them, the pair agree to make the Greeks’ homeward voyage horrific.

"David Keely and Nora McLellan aptly epitomize the aloof, self-serving attitudes of those who play with human lives in times of war.

"While mourning the deaths of her husband, King Priam of Troy, and her sons, Paris and Hector, Hecuba is further shocked by the news brought by Talthybius, the Greek messenger.

"The victors have decided to distribute the Trojan women amongst themselves: Hecuba will become a slave to Odysseus; her daughter Cassandra will become the mistress of Agamemnon; and another daughter, Polyxena, has been slain by the tomb of Achilles.

"Cassandra (Kelli Fox) presents a compelling portrait of the mad seer, as she whirls about the stage prophesying the disasters that will come to the Greeks. It’s a scary, spell-binding scene.

"But worse is yet to come. Andromache with her baby son, Astyanax, is wailing over the death of her husband Hector when Talthybius reluctantly brings the news that the child will be thrown to his death from the towers of Troy, so that he will not survive to avenge his father.

"In one of the most heart-rending scenes imaginable, the youngster is torn from his weeping mother’s arms, and she is forcibly taken off to Greece. Seana McKenna gives a poignant performance, while Sean Arbuckle shows sensitivity as the messenger caught between his duty and his humanity.

"King Menelaus ( Brad Rudy) demands that his faithless wife Helen, cause of the Trojan war, be returned to him. Yanna McIntosh portrays Helen as a beautiful, sexy woman, pleading her innocence in a 'trial' presided over by Hecuba.

"When her grandchild’s crushed body is brought back on his father’s shield, Hecuba’s pain reaches unbearable heights, as she tenderly croons to him. Throughout the play, Martha Henry most effectively symbolizes grief in every gesture, speech and movement.

"The plot ends as Troy is set on fire and the powerless women are led away to their captors.
The Chorus – a traditional feature of Greek drama- reflects and comments on the action through complementary song, movement, and dance.

"Dressed in multi-coloured garments, with headscarves, their restrictive clothing has both ancient and contemporary references. These eight actors contribute greatly to the play's emotional impact.

"In contrast, the military men look definitely modern, in boots and flak jackets, with a menacing appearance. The Trojan Women is an engrossing, unforgettable theatrical experience.

"Characterized by superb direction and acting, it is a tribute to the endurance of the human spirit even in appalling circumstances.

"It’s a must-see this season."

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