After suffering through The Seagull a couple of years ago I didn't think I would ever tolerate a Katie Mitchell production again, but a £10 ticket for 80 minutes made me give this a chance. Characteristically Mitchell has hacked away huge chunks of the original text and her obsession with physical gimmicks (slow motion dancing, a lipstick circle on Helen's midriff) is at the expense of old-fashioned virtues such as clarity of storytelling and performances, some of which should not have been allowed on a National Theatre stage. And yet, despite all the foolishness this is still an intensely powerful evocation of the horrors of war, the effects on the innocents left behind and the dehumanising of the perpetrators. Unfortunately I suspect it has almost nothing to do with Euripides. - David Baxter
27 Feb 08
Superb production enjoyed every minute. Five star acting. - I.L.S
20 Feb 08
The best I can say about this production is that it was never boring. The staging and the special effects saw to that, but it had nothing to do with Euripides. Katie Mitchell needs to have more faith in the text she is directing. And I was not alone in complaining about the appalling voice projection from some of the actors, who were effectively unintelligible for most of the time. Also, a warning should be given before the performance about the volume of the sound effects: a few heart attacks were only just avoided. - sc
18 Feb 08
Best yet from the genius Mitchell.There is nothing better going on in UK theatre at the moment.A dramatic and emotional bombshell.If you want simply text read a book, this is theatre! - Joesmith
07 Feb 08
All rant and rave with only occaisional, tantalsingly too brief, glimpses of Euripedes' great work shining through. The flashy stage gimmicks of this effort, from what appeared to be the Ken Russell School of Direction, did nothing for the play. Are they on drugs, is she bonkers I wondered, as I sat there amongst the somewhat bemused audience at last night's performance? Ken did all this sort of stuff decades ago and it looks dated now. We've moved on a bit since then haven't we? Well I thought so but obviously not at the NT. Some of the delivery was so dreadfull, mumbled and garbled that it was impossible even from row D in the stalls to make out a bloody word from some of them. For christ sake it's theatre! How Ms Mitchell still manages to get the resources of "Our" NT to mess with I really don't know. Come on Nick after this fiasco surely enough is enough! 2/10 see me! (2 stars - well I'm feeling generous to the stage hands!) - rds
30 Jan 08
As has become the norm with Katie Mitchell, its deeply intellectual and technically acomplished but is totally unengaging and leaves you completely cold. Good special effects, though.....Another New Year resolution to add to no more Pinter and Checkov - stop booking for Katie Mitchell productions. - Gareth James
12 Dec 07
passionate? not really- yes the integrity of the production shines through but having all of the women in shock ALL of the time stunts our emotions and makes this a case of 'style over content'. I loved the movement aspects ..saying so much more in a way than the text, but overall it's impossible to not find the one-level vocal level (sometimes just inaudible) plain irritating. And not once did we feel the distraught, torn emotions in the text conveyed beyone row 4 of the stalls. Disappointing, but one way to spend a tax payers contribution on special effects! - GR
02 Dec 07
I'm unconvinced by the glib comparison with composers and painters made by the reviewer below - it really isn't as conveniently straightforward as that, and is in its own way a somewhat narrow-minded view of artistic processes. However, I'm not too bothered what devices a director uses so long as they serve the piece. The problem I had with this was that Katie Mitchell's (now overly familiar) techniques rather got in the way of what would/could have been a better production. It has positive aspects - not least the truncation of the text, which seems to prompt howls of dismay from some but in this case works to the production's advantage. The setting is stark and highly effective, the astmosphere striking and well underscored by some of the music and background textures. I found performances uneven, though, the night I went. Some of the cast seemed very ill at ease while others shone. But there's enough here to make it worth seeing, DESPITE the imposition of crowbarred-in dance-hall routines, falling sand and slow-motion walks. But do go see it. It did the job for me, but only because I could recognise the simpler un-embroidered piece lurking beneath the surface. Mitchell should get rid of her box of old tricks and focus on the skill and pencil-sketch economy she's capable of offering. - Sycamore Flint
01 Dec 07
I'm puzzled: what is it about the theatre that compels some spectators to demands literalism at all costs? If that were the case in fine art we'd never have got past John Constable. If it were music, Schoenberg and Messiaen would have remained unheard. In the cinema there would be no place for Godard or Bunuel.
Whatever happened to open minds? Katie Mitchell is a deep-thinking, iconoclastic director who breaks boundaries through experimentation with a distinctive personal style. A year ago I went to Waves expecting the worst, following poor reviews and mixed word of mouth, but I was hugely impressed. So what if it didn't fit into that comfortable, recognisable category of a theatre as place where actors do acting and nothing else: here they did so much more, and to hell with anyone's spurious or narrow definitions of what constitutes 'theatre'.
Now, reverting to her more traditional style, Mitchell has further explored that visual grammar that is her hallmark. Those who accuse her of repeating herself might as well criticise a painter for developing a personal style or a composer for having a distinctive voice. ('Beethoven's done yet another bloody string quartet - and it's in four movements a-GAIN...')
I was disappointed in The Seagull, but not for reasons of anti-Mitchell dogma; I just felt it missed the emotional mark. (To my mind it was the first of her four Chekhovs to do so.) I was bowled over by Iphigenia in Aulis though, and even more so by A Dream Play, but last night at Women of Troy I thought she surpassed even those triumphs. The formal structure of Greek tragedy is extremely challenging for modern audiences, but every one of Mitchell's cuts made sense, while her expressionistic interpolations heightened the experience in appropriately troubling ways. As for accusations of directorial vanity - what nonsense. That may have applied to the noxious Carmen I suffered at ENO recently (Sally Potter should learn her craft down at the local ops before venturing inside a professsional theatre again), but with Women of Troy there was no doubting the integrity, intelligence and passion in every moment.
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