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Trojan Women — Review

On Monday 23 January, fresh into the new semester, the Barron Theatre witnessed the opening night of Euripides’ Trojan Women, directed by Orsolya Haynes and produced by Aradhana Kiran. Walking into the theatre, the performance space was framed by rows of seats on each wall, creating an amphitheatre-esque atmosphere, as though the show was stripped to some primal form of performance.

Indeed, there is a quality of bareness about this rendition of Trojan Women. More than anything, it is the basics of acting and performance on display, the greatest spectacles for the audience being raw emotion and tragedy. Undoubtedly, some of the strongest performances came from Emily Speed as Hecabe, queen of Troy, who grapples most viscerally with grief and rage at her impending fate, slavery and despair. Anna-Marie Regner, playing Andromache, delivered a powerful and moving performance, conveying the atrocities brought about by war. Iha Jha and Rupert Carter as Helen of Troy and Menelaus are a captivating and refreshing pair to watch; Mary Kalinski as Cassandra and Felix da Silva-Clamp must also be commended for memorable performances.

Though there is a lack of props, the use of costumes reaffirms the modernity of the setting. If the show has a shortcoming, it is that certain performances grow repetitive, and it is not always clear whether they convey a narrative of women persisting through grief, or succumbing to it.

The show subverted expectations in its collaboration with the St Andrews Ukrainian Society. Subtly adapting the narrative to take place in modern-day Ukraine, the play’s performances are given an even greater intensity, with audience members having the knowledge that they are witnessing human experiences that are pressing, relevant, and real. This is a play about the death and destruction that comes after war, a sentiment that is most poignantly captured by the performances of the chorus of Trojan women. The suffering of these women is made infinitely more genuine, and, by extension, tragic, when we are made aware that the actors are performing lines from a play first performed in 415 BCE. 

Admirably, the team behind the play is raising money for the ‘Unbreakable Mom’ project run by the Masha Fund, which supports Ukrainian women and children psychologically.

Though the show is bolstered by strong performances, it is the play’s direction which can be felt throughout the narrative. The movements of actors, choices made concerning physicality, the role of the chorus, and lighting, are deliberate and thought out. This is clearly a show underpinned by a commendable level of thought, effort, and dedication. The chorus was put to good use, with scenes of collective grief and devastation having an overpowering emotional effect.

It is said in the play that ‘the dead alone forget their griefs and never shed a tear’. Those who must face the aftermath of war are not portrayed nearly as often as those who make war — this rendition of Trojan Women recontextualises a story of the atrocity and destruction that war brings, rendering it timeless and moving.

Photo by Bella Mia

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