Friday, November 30, 2012

Trojan Women (After Euripides) at BAM

Photo: Richard Termine
Just when you thought enough of monitors and digital displays, enough of post-modernist sets and quantum approaches to acting, enough even of nudity, what about an old fashioned proscenium production that does justice to the text, comes Anne Bogart’s direction of the SITI Company’s Trojan Woman (After Euripides) at BAM. And a slam BAM thank you mam production of a classic play it is. If the A.S.P.C.A. gave an award for howling by a human then Ellen Lauren who plays Hecuba would surely be a frontrunner. To do the production justice, there is an attempt to capture the irony and realism that characterize the Euripidean approach to tragedy. Rather than “After Euripides,” the production might better be characterized as after Aeschylus and Sophocles since it’s truly faithful to the playwright, who created a modern seeming universe in which the Gods are absent or totally malevolent. Considering all the recriminating that’s going on—with Helen blaming Paris and Hecuba blaming Helen and everyone commiserating over the glory that was Troy—this Trojan Woman has something in common with both Sartre’s No Exit and its famous line “hell is other people” and Chekhov’s Three Sisters who either live in the past or the future, but never fully inhabit the present. But what’s with Menelaus (J. Ed Araiza) in a tux looking like a lounge singer, Poseidon (Brent Wertzner) in his surgical looking greens and Odysseus (Gian-Murray Gianino) dressed like he's just attended graduation at Annapolis? “I did not destroy you, only you did,” Helen (Katherine Crockett) announces at one point. Actually from what transpires on stage, it might be the histrionics that are to blame. Something’s amiss when a production of Trojan Women starts to look and sound like General Hospital.

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