Edinburgh Fringe 2012
A classic interpretation and performance of the Greek legend that follows the fates of the Women involved in the sacking of Troy. The fates of Cassandra, Andromache, Helen and Hecuba are played out against the background of the end of terrible war. The Spartans seek revenge and take it; the human cost clear for all to see.
I have seen all three Trojan Women on the Fringe this year. It was deliberate. All three are very different. The scripts for each are notable in how much of a liberty that you can take with a classic because it is robust enough to take an edit. This company have not so much just rewritten the script (They seem to have) but have taken in storylines from other plays in order to help make sense of it all. At times the writing is bland and unappealing. It doesn’t have the majesty of the original; the poetry of the poets. However this is not a production asking us to marvel at creativity but to witness the appalling nature of war.
To that end it works up to a point. Where it does not work it tends to depend upon the physical nature of some of the direction. Three scenes don’t help. Firstly it is the rape. I am not against having this portrayed onstage but it does rather spoil the effect when, in the semi darkness of a blackout Agamemnon strikes Cassandra’s knickers like a true gentleman. Secondly we have the killing of the baby onstage. Once again I am not complaining about it being onstage. The baby wasn’t a baby and seeing anyone killing your son would elicit a tad more than we got from his mother. It was unconvincing. Finally I had issues with Agamemnon being dead. We know he isn’t actually dead but with him left onstage breathing more heavily than a 40 a day man in a marathon. In no way am I getting at the actors here. They were directed in this manner and these decisions need more careful thought.
It was a young company whose pace and thought was excellent. I loved in particular the work of the women and would not like to pick out any of them but let me alight upon two. I loved Andromache’s speech telling of Hector’s demise and I adored one of the chorus. Irn bru headed and with more ticks than a Possil drug dealer, he had menace in his eyes and achieved the ability of being an individual within a crowd.
There was no set and apart from the minor thoughts regarding direction this was a great piece delivered well.
I hate the idea of comparisons between the three performance pieces though deliberately managing to catch and review all three suggests otherwise. I was intrigued as to how each company would tackle the same piece. The result was three different shows with the same basic material. None of them are comparable with any of the others and I would not recommend one before the other. I would say of this one though that if you are seeking a piece that tells the story in a manner that can be followed and has enough physical gusto to wrap your attention round the difficult to follow bits; you will do much worse than catching this one.