Trojan Women

Euripedes' 'Trojan Women' meets 'Lilith Fair' in this adaptation of Charles Mee's warped, poetic, gorgeously lyrical open source project.

'Trojan Women 2.0' is an exploration of the effects of war on women, with poetry, with songs, with the testimonials of victims from Hiroshima to Sarajevo, crafted like one of Max Ernst's Fatagaga pieces: incorporating shards of the modern world to lie, as in a bed of ruins, within a cracked classical frame.

Part of its real beauty lies in the genuine excellence of Greg Gunter's dramaturgy; it veers from the deeply moving to the unsettling to the unexpectedly funny in sharp, jagged turns that can leave you a little breathless, but it's still Trojan Women for all that. Andromache is still the slightly neurotic, tightly wound faithful wife of excellent reputation, who wonders belatedly what any of that hard-maintained virtue was good for. Helen is the same subtly vicious manipulator and cast iron survivor, curiously admirable. Cassandra remains in some respects the strongest and most lucid of any of them, the only one to enter and leave the stage entirely under her own power, and under no illusions. And Hecuba, the queen, helpless witness as the lights of her human existence are snuffed out one by one, finally finds strength enough to rage and set in motion the eventual instrument of her revenge.

And perhaps the single best aspect of Trojan Women 2.0, and the one that sold me on this translation, was its strength as an ensemble piece. There are no thankless roles in this play; female and male chorus members alike have names, distinct personalities and fascinating stories of their own to tell.

I can't help thinking Euripedes would have approved; Trojan Women started as an act of pure theatrical rebellion, scold and scourge of warmongers, giving voice to those who might otherwise have none, and it remains that way.