Monday, March 26, 2007

Trojan Women, What a Bummer!

Of course war is bleak, but a play that does nothing but hammer home that bleakness runs the risk of hammering its audience into stunned submission. "The Trojan Women" doesn't inspire or enrage us as much as it suffocates us with the heaviness of endless tragedy.
Burlington Freepress, Brent Hallenbeck

Three shows down, three to go: Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week - you KNOW you want to come and be suffocated "with the heaviness of endless tragedy." HAW! No really, you should come! It is a really, really good play, no matter what Brent Hallenbeck says.

Yes, "The Trojan Women" is a tragedy, and it lifts the carpet to look at the radiating effects of war that we often try to sweep away. But it's all too grim to leave us with strong feelings. "The Trojan Women" is a 90-minute lament.
Burlington Freepress, Brent Hallenbeck

This Freeps review really annoys me. The basic gist of what he says is that The Trojan Women is too much of a downer to enjoy. For starters, let's take a refresher course, IT IS A GREEK TRAGEDY!

Secondly, war sucks. Too bad we can't dress it up with lots of hot Helens with cleavage but when it comes down to it, war sucks.

Thirdly, even if you find a play depressing, it is possible to note its finer aspects such as the complex nuanced acting done by stage veterans like Ruth, Kelly, Jim and Joyce and the younger set such as Katya, Alison, Claire, Alex and Joshua. Additionally, the director, Eric Ronis did an amazing job with the lighting design and we all worked for many many hours to try to explore this prose down to its depths.

Perhaps it is expecting too much to ask an audience to sit through a sad play for 90 minutes. But I would like to point out that every day in Iraq and other war-torn countries, this is life. It does not end after 90 minutes when mercifully, our lives return to normal and we can go out for burgers.

They live the tragedy, feel it, breathe it and fear it all day long, every day. I find it sad that Americans find 90 minutes of tragedy distasteful. Well, not all Americans. Seven Days reviewer Lisa Crean gave The Trojan Women a far deeper examination:

Elements of the production reinforce the parallel between ancient and modern times. Ronis uses a soundtrack of traditional Arab chant to evoke a “timeless feeling,” he says. Several characters wear costumes resembling burkhas. Actors break the fourth wall and “make their appeals directly to the audience,” Ronis notes. King Menelaus enters “à la George Bush making a stump speech, pressing the flesh.”

Ronis believes the play’s themes “speak for themselves.” Their modern relevance is a tragedy even Euripedes could not have foreseen. “It’s a shame that this is what we do,” Ronis says. “This is what humanity is. And 2500 years ago, this play was written, and nothing has changed. Nothing has changed, except our weapons have become more sophisticated.”
Seven Days, Lisa Crean

I have heard this play hundreds of times by now and I still find something new and interesting to mull over each night we perform it. Call me a lover of tragedies, call me a melodramatic drama queen (both ring true) but there is good stuff here to ruminate over.

Our audience Sunday night was small and consisted mainly of mothers but we still put on an awesome show because the play deserves it. It is a solid tale, a tragic tale and one that is sadly as relevant today as it was
thousands of years ago. The moms know it, Euripides knew it, most people who have been to Iraq know it. And I am proud to be a part of it and every night, Kelly brings a little tear to my eye when she says:

Hear, O mother of children give ear to what I urge so well, that I may cheer my drooping spirit. 'Tis all one, I say, ne'er to have been born and to be dead, and better far is death than life with misery. For the dead feel no sorrow any more and know no grief; but he who has known prosperity and has fallen on evil days feels his spirit straying from the scene of former joys.

PS And check out this review of an interesting re-telling of The Trojan Women with pop songs! I want to see this!


Q_Monroe said...

you tell 'em eva! i loved your play and thought it was great that there wasn't a happy ending. there can't be one.

Jeff said...

Take heart Eva not many people read the BFP these days... I doubt I will get into town to see this play, but I will go to the cabaret for sure.

Eva the Deadbeat said...

thanks guys. i guess i got my panties (burkha) into a bit of a bunch over this one. ah well, we Trojans are of a sturdy stock and can continue mourning despite retarded reviews in the paper! so there! (how 2nd grade am i!?)