May 22, 2013, by Alan Sommerstein

Tragic Troy reviewed

Below is a review by Alan Geary of the Lace Market Theatre’s Women of Troy, from the Nottingham Evening Post of Wednesday 15 May.

“The  Trojan War has ended with Greek victory. Troy is in ruins; its menfolk have been  killed; its women and children are being carried off into slavery or worse. As Women of Troy opens Hecuba, the former queen, bewails the fate of the  land.

Partly because  this two-and-a-half-thousand year-old classic is as thematically relevant today  as ever it was, partly because Cynthia Marsh’s direction has retained all the  essential features of the Ancient Greek drama, the end result is an  extraordinary evening’s theatre.

A  striking set is dominated by Emma Pegg’s huge painted broken female mask behind  a three-tiered grey ziggurat. And lighting is also crucial to the visual impact:  at the start, for instance, the women are grouped in the form of a cross, and  that cross is made to appear bright blood-red. Although costumes suggest  middle-east for the women, modern military for the men, contemporary parallels  are hinted at, never rammed home. Sound effects are excellent.

Choral work is  admirable: there’s an overall respect for the text. There needs to be: Don  Taylor’s translation is wonderfully concrete and vivid.

Ciaran  Stones’s Talthybius, the bringer of bad news, and Gavin Alston’s Menelaus are  well played. Michelle Smith is splendid as Helen, in the same mask as was used  in the play of that name (same director) six years back. And she’s even more  impressive as Cassandra (along with Sally Nix and Ashreen Seethall, all in red  robes and white headdresses).

The  production best, possibly her Lace Market career best, performance comes from  Amanda Hodgson as Hecuba. Hodgson has complete sensitivity to the text and the  capacity to eschew bogus histrionics. That weird, gurgley cry of grief near the  end is heart-rending.

Women,  the main victims of war, don’t just berate men in this play; they rage at the  gods.”

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