War is Hades
The Trojan Women
Although written over 2,000 years ago, Euripides’ The Trojan Women treats themes that are quite contemporary. In their latest production, the Nevada Repertory Company delivers a moving production of this timeless classic in a modern translation by Nicholas Rudall.
The Trojan War has ended, and the men of Troy have been killed by the Greeks. Amid the ruins of the city of Troy, the Trojan women wait to learn what will happen to them. The Greeks are dividing them up, deciding which warrior will claim which woman as his slave or concubine.
As they wait, the women lament the ruins of their city and the loss of their husbands and children, while Greek soldiers stand sternly over them. The Trojan Women is not just about the horrors of war, but about what happens to women in wartime. In this play, war is a man’s game, and women do not understand it. These women live in a man’s world—a violent world that only brings suffering.
The story opens with a prologue in which the gods Poseidon (Ben Onyx Dowdy) and Athena (April Clelia Grenot) make a pact to cause great harm to the Greeks as they sail across the seas to return to their homelands. This opening informs the rest of the story, as the women continually wonder why the gods could allow such misery to occur. And while the Greeks coldly finish off the city of Troy, the audience knows that their share of suffering is to come.
At the center of the story is Hecuba (Angela Sonner), the queen of Troy, who is soon to become the slave of Odysseus. She is simultaneously a tower of strength and an embodiment of grief. As Hecuba, Sonner gives a riveting performance, sustaining an incredible intensity throughout the play. Her lines are delivered with beautiful lyricism and emotional rawness.
In fact, there are many strong performances. As Poseidon, Ben Onyx Dowdy superbly embodies the watery god with his fluid movements and commanding presence. As Talthybias, a Greek warrior charged with the duty of delivering the bad news to the women, Zachary Bortot portrays the emotional conflict of a character who is torn between his loyalty to the Greeks and his pity and admiration for the women. As Andromache, the wife of Hector, Sarah Potts’ grief and anger is very touching.
But above all, The Trojan Women succeeds because director Sue Klemp has assembled such a strong ensemble. This group of actors make bold choices and movements, while displaying a deep commitment to the story.
Every director of a Greek drama must face the big question: What should one do with the Chorus? In this production, Klemp has chosen a Chorus of eight women who perform ritualized movements—acting both as a group and as individuals—as they deliver their odes to a haunting musical accompaniment.
The costumes, set, and lighting are appealing in their warm tones. The women wear tattered rags, while the Greeks wear warrior costumes and carry menacing weapons. The play runs an hour and 40 minutes without an intermission—a good choice that maintains the momentum of the performance.
The Trojan Women serves as a reminder that wars have very human consequences. Rather than bringing glory, wars only cause misery.