A golden-masked Poseidon sets the stage, offering the terrifying introduction to a fallen Troy, its surviving women doomed to become wives or slaves – little difference here – to their victors, who may pick and choose from among them. On one side of the stage sits former queen Hecuba, dressed in grey rags and leaning on a walking stick. On the other, Cassandra, dressed in white with flowers in her golden hair as she kneels on the ground, sifting through white rose petals. In the centre, off left on the hill, black stones come to life as the chorus of six widows, black and crow-like, rising from the ruins of Troy.
Alumnae Theatre’s production of Trojan Women (Euripides, trans. by Gwendolyn MacEwan) is at once beautiful and terrible, poetic and vulgar. It is a play about the ravages of war, after all. Director Alexandra Seay has an incredible cast for this play: Andrew P. McMaster (Poseidon/Talthybius), Molly Thom (Hecuba), Sochi Fried (Cassandra – until Jan 27, when the role is taken up by Suzette McCanny, who is now in the Chorus), Susan Q. Wilson (Chorus leader), a Chorus including Andrea Blakey, Anne Shepherd, Stephanie Carpanini, Katie Ribout and Carys Lewis, and Nicole St. Martin (Andromache), Scott Moore (Menelaus) and Tara Zacharias (Helen).
The design for this production is a much a star as its actors: set and props by Alanna Smithee, lighting by Jennifer Fraser and costumes by Peter DeFreitas. The minimalist – and gorgeous – design elements all complement the story and its characters perfectly and highlight the remarkable – and sometimes horrible – moments with just the right tone. The most striking is Andromache’s son, represented at first by the beige brown fabric that matches her robes, becoming a stream of red fabric later when Talthybius returns with his body.
The women of Troy have lost everything, but they are not defeated – shoulders back and heads held high, they begin the journey towards their new lives.
And all this is held together by the intrepid producer team of PJ Hammond and Tabitha Keast, and SM Margot “Mom” Devlin (who was also her own one-woman team of tech operators), assisted by ASM Pona Tran.
Trojan Women runs on the main stage at Alumnae until February 4, with a talkback after the matinée on January 29. Go see this.
For details and reservations, visit the Alumnae Theatre website: http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/1112trojan.html