The city is in ruins, flames are ravaging the buildings and blood is flowing in the streets: This is the great city of Troy.
Or what used to be the great city of Troy. In The Trojan Women, Sparta has conquered the town and left it in shambles. With every minute that passes dethroned Queen Hecuba (senior Maria Panvini) and the rest of the Trojan women have to deal with numerous growing threats as they watch their city fall.
All of the Trojan women have to deal with a whole host of problems. The Greek herald Talthybius (freshman Nick Anastasia) arrives to tell Hecuba that she will be taken away with the Greek general Odysseus, and her daughter Cassandra (sophomore Joanne Nosuchinsky) is slated to become conquering General Agamemnon’s concubine.
Andromache (freshman Nicole Carroll), Hector’s wife, is informed that she is to become the concubine of Achilles’ son. Talthybius reluctantly informs Andromache that her and Hector’s young son, Astyanax, has been condemned to die because the Greek leaders are afraid that the boy will grow up to avenge his father, Hector, one day.
Helen (junior Nicole Lorenzetti), though not one of the Trojan women, will suffer greatly too. Her husband, Menelaus (junior Kevin Feehery) arrives to take her back to Greece with him, where a death sentence awaits her.
With all of this mayhem going on it may seem like the acting might be scattered, but it is one of the strongest parts of the play.
Panvini steals the show with her amazing performance as the tortured Hecuba. The power in Panvini’s portrayal as a woman with nothing left creates an emotional and unsettling experience for the viewer. When listening to Panvini crying for help, you cannot help but feel the painful anguish that she is going through. Even when Panvini isn’t speaking you can see her in the background desperately weeping, seeking to hold onto something that just isn’t there.
Yet, Panvini is not the only notable star of The Trojan Women. Lorenzetti’s depiction of Helen was incredible. In The Iliad, the precursor to The Trojan Women, Helen is known as the woman that two countries went to war over. However, The Trojan Women portrays her in a different way. Here she is seen as a devious, lying seductress who is hated by both sides. Lorenzetti exposes not only Helen’s beauty but also her deceit and trickery when she tries to change Menelaus’ mind about her guilt. With every move that she makes, Lorenzetti’s cunningness and sensuality comes jumping out, reminding the audience why the Trojans went to war in the first place.
Rebecca Basham, the show’s director and a professor in the English Department, deserves great credit for taking on a play of this caliber. Whereas most plays have conventional happy endings to appease their audiences, there are none in this story. As the play progresses things only continue to get worse and worse for every single Trojan woman.
The set is simple, but says so much. It contains a couple of torn pillars, bricks, clumps of dirt and a massive wall that looms over the characters. Yet, little details, such as the blood-spattered wall, create an eerie and morbid feeling of death.
The lighting was also very strong. In order to create the experience of being outside, the lighting creates an illusion of light coming through leaves on the trees.
Also unlike other plays that get a student to play a child’s role, The Trojan Women uses a young child to play the role of Astyanax, Hector’s young son. The fact that they used a real child actor enhances the realism of the play. The audience’s engagement with the play is not disturbed by some awkward attempt by a student to play a little boy.
The play does have a couple of imperfections though. Since it is an adaptation of Euripides’ ancient Greek play, people who have no background in Greek literature or history might be confused. A lot of the play is based on information that has already happened in The Iliad.
With a running time of under 90 minutes and no intermission, the play still seems to drag on and is hard to follow at times.
The play shows the consequential effects of war that still ring true to this day. The conquered people in Troy cannot do anything but wait for their own carnage, and the disaster parallels what is going on with the Iraq War. All that the people being conquered can do is wait for when they will be taken to be enslaved, raped or violently killed by the winners.
The play shows how much destruction was brought upon Troy because two men desired one beautiful woman.