United Players of Vancouver

The Homecoming of Neoptolemus
based on Andromache
by Euripides

Venue: Jericho Arts Centre
Dates: 30 January - 22 February 2004

Reviewer: Jane Penistan



Director Conrad Alexandrowicz Costume design Conrad Alexandrowicz Lighting design Serge Robidoux Sound design Yannis Fyssa Stage manager Philip Richard Black




Andromache - United Players; Photographer: 
Chris LeMayConrad Alexandrowicz combines a contemporary translation/adaptation of Euripides' tragedy of Andromache with classical Greek presentation. The black clad chorus opens the drama with stylized movement as it proceeds across the stage to rhythmic drum beats. Already a sense of the inevitability of impending doom is generated. Andromache, (Vonia Arslanian) the widow of Hector and now the war prize concubine of Neoptolemus, and mother of his son, is threatened by Hermione (Lilli Clark), Neoptolemus' jealous wife  and daughter of Menelaus and Helen.

While Neoptolemus is away in Delphi, the frightened Andromache seeks sanctuary in the shrine of the sea nymph Thetis. But she and her son Molossus (Doran Satanove) are captured, bound and sentenced to death by Menelaus (Eric Colvin). Peleus (Paul Toolan), as Neoptolemus´ grandfather and regent, intervenes and rescues Andromache and her son from the sadistic Menelaus. However, Peleus is the father of Achilles who killed Andromache's husband Hector during the siege of Troy and, though he is now a regretful old man,  Andromache can not trust him. To complicate matters, the young and handsome Orestes (played by a  charming Jonathan Geenan) arrives and seduces Hermione.

In Delphi, Neoptolemus has been struck down and his bloodstained body escorted home  by a messenger (David Mott) who relates the dramatic circumstances of the death. Peleus has now lost all and dies in the sea grotto, in the arms of Thetis.



In spite of the chorus' explanations throughout the play, it is difficult for an audience unfamiliar with Greek mythology to follow all the relationships, jealousies and present turmoil that are the result of the Trojan War. The Chorus Leader (Melanie Yeats) could be more commanding and the chorus work more explicit. All the characters of the tragedy are clearly defined and well presented. Andromache's long scene setting speech early in the play is particularly well done, as is the descriptive and dramatic narrative of the messenger relating the death of Neoptolemus.

The costumes are excellent in their helping to identify the unfamiliar characters. The lighting is well thought out and scene defining. The sound and music add much to enhancing the atmosphere and darkness of the action.

This production has the marks of a gifted choreographer directing the work. The movement of the chorus and the other actors are stylized and entirely in keeping with the traditions of Greek drama presentation. The contemporary script, also by Conrad Alexandrowicz, is not without humour in its inevitable tragedy. Overall this is an unusual and very pleasing evening of theatre. More academic programme notes explaining the relationships and history of the survivors of the Siege of Troy would help the audience to appreciate more fully the action and sequences of the story of the Homecoming of Neoptolemus.

The Homecoming of Neoptolemus runs at the Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery, January 30 - February 22, 2004, Thursday through Sunday at 8.00 p.m. For more information, reservations and tickets, telephone 604-224-8007 or visit www.unitedplayers.com

© 2004, Jane Penistan