Studio 58

Troy, City of Love

by Alexander Ferguson

Venue: Studio 58, Langara College
Dates: 30 September - 17 October 2004

Reviewer: Jane Penistan

 

 

Director Alexander Ferguson Composer/Choral director Patrick Pennefather  Costume diva Marina Szijarto Set design David Roberts Lighting Jonathan Ryder Stage manager  Raelynne Gagnon

 

 

 


Troy castAlexander Ferguson has done a great deal of reading in order to write this very interesting modern version of Greek tragedy. Billed as an adaptation of The Trojan Women by Euripedes this version incorporates characters from his other surviving plays. The form and discipline of Greek tragedy is preserved, giving structure and style to this twenty-first century verse play.

The performance opens with a haunting and beautiful prelude, sung by a classically dressed Greek chorus. The light gradually increases to reveal pastel swathed figures standing in a multi level rocky landscape. In full light, Hecuba enters, in modern dress. Tara Jean Wilkin, as Hecuba, declaims the sad story of the sack of Troy by the Athenians, and the cruel deaths of her husband and sons.

The Trojan women are waiting to learn their fate at the hands of the conquering army, led by the  Mycenean general, Agamemnon, whose bride Cassandra, a prophetess, daughter of Hecuba, is destined to become. Wendy McLeod is an imposing, black-clad, statuesque Cassandra, whose presence demands immediate attention from all on stage. She foretells the destruction of the conquerors, the death of the remaining members of her own family, and for herself, her destruction of her future husband.  Polixena (Evangela Dueck), her younger sister, youthful, and pretty, is destined to be the wife of Achilles, the slayer of her brother Hector.

 

The victorious army representatives enter, in modern army fatigues. First Talthybios, (Nikolas Longstaff) the messenger, but also the non-commissioned officer, who will perform the savage and barbaric killing of the Trojans, ordered by Agamemnon. Josue Laboucane as Agamemnon, takes command when on stage, and is clearly the conqueror. Talthybios shows sparks of humanity in her apology to Andromache (Lisa Oppenheim), the widow of Hector, as he seizes her young son to throw him over the battlements of Troy. The luckless Andromache has been awarded as a spoil of war to Neoptolomus, the son of Achilles, who slew Hector. Hecuba is permitted to prepare her grandson's body for burial shrouded in his grandfather's armour.

Most dramatic is the horrifying death of Polyxena in the red light of burning Troy. The other women are shot. Finally, Helen (Stacie Steadman), for whom the war was waged, and Menelaos (Lee Vincent) in the rising clear light are left to go where they will.

The sound and lighting are integral parts of this production. Without their support and expert deployment  much of the impact of the scenes would be lost. The speech throughout is clear and well articulated, with the difficult chorus work well done. The large cast act well together listening, attending and responding to each other. There is excellent ensemble work here.

Purists may quibble at some of the licence taken in this modern, ironic treatment of classical drama. For me the amalgamation of the discipline and structure of the classical drama coupled with modern verse and technology was an interesting and fascinating experience. Langara's Studio 58 is to be congratulated on this unusual production.

2004 Jane Penistan



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