This attempt by playwright Glyn Maxwell and director Alex Clifton to combine Euripides’ two tragedies Hecuba and Trojan Woman sees human beings become slimy creatures that bound barefoot across the stage screaming, swearing and struggling to hang on to sanity. The emphasis is on the physical, with dialogue less a narrative and more a musical backdrop to the movement.
The premise is interesting; unfortunately, an under-edited script and over-wrought acting leaves the cast relying too heavily on the sensationalism of the physical. By the end, you are sighing with the characters as the shrieks, soliloquising, screaming and singing finally draw to a close.
There’s a vaguely thought provoking consideration of the presentation of women and how men relate to them. As the four women of Troy writhe in their cave (and there is a lot of this), they bring out elements of the Harpy, or Sirens gone horribly wrong. Similarly, there is a slightly intriguing dwelling on the concept of Troy: this place of uncertain existence, lost and existing only in constructions of words.
Unfortunately, much of the poetry in these potential subtleties gets lost amidst the crude portrayal. The structure and the dialogue don’t take the ideas that extra mile, the drama lacking the authority needed to take a deliberate stance on its subjects. Maxwell, reputed to be one of the country’s most poetical playwrights, could at least vary the consonants in the four-letter words that punctuate his verse.
The acting is intense, the direction is intricate, the dialogue is flamboyant. However, the play seems to land wide of its goal, leaving you with a few confused ideas about Gods, Troy, men and women, but is too blunt a tool to bring out the gems you’d hope to find.