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May, 2004
Trojan Women - The Playhouse
Trojan Women image
Trojan Women image

Trojan Women
By Euripides

5 - 8 May

The Playhouse
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By Harriet Mancey-Barratt

The Trojan War has ended, with the Greeks sacking Troy and killing its heroes. Euripides takes for his subject the women left hanging in a period of time between war and effective rape. Grief-stricken and utterly powerless, these women are the political and sexual pawns of the enemy. Strange though it may sound, this anguish is brilliantly portrayed by the all-female chorus through a mixture of ancient song, ballet and electro-punk. The triumph of this production is this eclectic merging of influences to create a whole that is simultaneously dramatically surprising and gratifying.

Elisabeth Gray as Andromache, Hector’s widow, stands out as the woman broken by loss who must yet retain a sense of her noble duty. Hecuba is also superb as the aged queen of Troy, an embodiment of the Trojan race’s mixture of anger, confusion and grief. The dramatic realisation of her daughter Cassandra, ‘mad, beautiful and dangerous’, was frankly fantastic - eerily fascinating and absolutely engaging.

Described by Edith Hamilton as ‘the greatest anti-war play ever written’, this is an insightful portrayal of sexual and military politics and the inherent tragedy of a woman’s situation. Euripides’ play was far ahead of its time, but much praise must also go to Avery Willis, whose translation was appropriately majestic without being too impenetrable for a modern audience.

So much attention to detail has evidently gone into every aspect of this production, meaning that the final play is intellectually intriguing as well as dramatically mesmerizing. The play, pertinent to a wider mythical context as it is, yet stands alone as an examination of human nature under immense pressure and the status of military prisoners under the thrall of their enemies. I cannot recommend it highly enough. This marvellous production is on until Saturday – book it now.

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