Review: The Trojan Women
It was certainly not planned that UC Davis would be presenting Eurepides’ 415 A.D. play Trojan Women at the end of the most contentious election in the recent history of this country, but its themes of misogyny, racism and xenophobia certainly seem timely and all too familiar.
The play was Euripides’ response to the atrocities committed by the Greeks during the Peloponnesian War.
This 1993 version, written by Brendan Kennelly and directed here by Kirsten Brandt, reminds us that what we do has consequences and that how we treat others reflects on who we are as people.
While earlier versions of this play showed the Trojan women as passive victims of their circumstances, Kennelly brings a 20th-century feminist twist to the story.
Despite total humiliation, the women keep their dignity, knowing they will be the moral and emotional victors in the continuing war with men. It defines the nature of the courage of women. This particular production has a marvelous cast, headed by Danika Sudik as Hecuba, the Queen of Troy. She gives an amazingly intense performance, as do Rose Kim as daughter Cassandra and Kelly Tappan as her anguished daughter-in-law Andromache. The women do not entirely get a whitewash because of their plight. Their verbal attacks on Helen (Jennifer Vega) lead one to contrast how women treat women whom they judge harshly versus how men treat women.
That Euripides’ words from more than 1,500 years ago sound familiar today is sad commentary on progress of the human species.