Trojan Women (After Euripides)


REVIEW by Willard Manus

The Trojan Women by Euripides was called by Edith Hamilton "the most powerful antiwar literature in the world." Now a new version of the play, TROJAN WOMEN (AFTER EURIPIDES), has been mounted at the Getty Villa by Siti Company, a NYC-based theatre group. Written by Jocelyn Clarke and directed by Anne Bogart, this production of TROJAN WOMEN shows that the power of Greek tragedy can still touch modern audiences.
Bogart founded her company with Suzuki Tadashi, the Japanese director who came to prominence in the 60s. She follows her ex-partner's theatrical precepts, demanding rigorous training and devoted performances from her actors. She believes that a company must bond together and that acting begins with physical exercise and body control.

Those attributes were much on show at the Getty. The Siti Company (which spent ten weeks in residence at the Getty), voiced Clarke's play with power and precision, moving in carefully choreographed, highly stylized fashion. The actors wore modern dress; lighting and sound effects were kept to a minimum (though a violin played softly in the background). The emphasis was on the actors: their delivery, movement, gestures, the way they entered and exited.

Clarke replaced Euripides' large chorus with a single character, a "eunuch-priest" and focused her drama on the four female survivors of the fall of Troy, Kassandra, Helen, Hecuba and Andromache. Clarke also introduced the character of Odysseus (not found in Euripides' version) and used him as a catalyst.

Clarke's TROJAN WOMEN is much longer and more repetitive than Euripides' original, but thanks to Ellen Lauren's hair-raisingly powerful performance as Hecuba and to the strong ensemble work by Brent Werzner, Barney O'Hanlon, Leon Ingulsrud, Akiko Aizawa, Makela Spielman, Katherine Crockett (as Helen), J. Ed Araiza and Gian-Murray Gianino, the human values of this ancient Greek tragedy came through strongly and vibrantly. Once more, the horror and folly of war were made palpably real to us.

(Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman outdoor performance space, Getty Villa, 310-440-7300,