Hecuba & Dido: Love Gone Wrong

Rated 3.0

War is hell: especially for the losers—and of those losers, the hardest hit and most dispensable are the women. That’s the premise of local playwright Ann Tracy’s newest offering, Hecuba & Dido: Love Gone Wrong, which she describes as a “modern adaptation of Trojan Women.” The result is a fascinating, provocative production—with some gripping performances—that unfortunately weakens during a less-focused second act.

Beyond the Proscenium Productions is known for its edgy, gritty multi-media shows, and Hecuba & Dido follows suit. The production takes place at The Space, the cavernous R Street performance area made more intimate with black-box staging, dramatic costuming and a large screen projecting current war images.

The scene begins with cowered women who begin to emerge from their burka-like mounds to recite war horrors. The main spokesperson is Hecuba (in an arresting performance by Cynthia Burdick), the former queen of the now demolished Troy, who is bemoaning the destructive nature of men. She’s joined by the other women survivors—mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters who tell of every day moments destroyed by the acts of war—the bombings of buses, rapes in houses and holding of dying sons.

Then come the conquering “heroes”—the victorious men who are there to claim the spoils, led by Talthybius (a self-assured Blair Leatherwood). Though the performances and dialogue in this first half are most effective, they do veer toward overly strident.

The second half, offered up as a stark contrast, takes place in a “feminist utopia,” where sex, nurturing and understanding rule the day under the guidance of women. Though the concept is a good one, it’s disjointed and makes the error of emphasizing sex over all elements, which make this new land less a women’s utopia and more a lucky man’s wet dream.