The Sam Houston theater department is putting on a moving and intense play in Gilbert Murray’s translation of Euripedes’s “Trojan Woman”.
“Trojan Woman” is a story about the women of Troy after the fall of their city and their emotions throughout the aftermath. The story is hard to follow, however the acting is not the issue. The actors do well at delivering their lines and giving their character more depth than the script seems to call for.
It’s also difficult to understand at times for those not used to hearing complex wording because the script is written using a classical language like Shakespeare.
The play has an impressive production value. Everything from the acting to the sets is all brilliantly produced. The costumes in the play represent the story well including the simple togas that even have hints of blood on the cloth to show the physical turmoil of the Trojan women.
The robes for the Gods are not as striking, however. The robes should be embellished and godly rather than the basic wear that the SHSU production uses. Poseidon, played by Sean Willard, has shells on his cloth and Athena has a huge headpiece that does look impressive. Poseidon had a trident that did not come off as godly either that looks like it is made simply from wood rather than something appearing stronger like metals. The Greek armor did not look good either. The body armor is well done, but the bottom looked more like metal scales.
The chorography is a big standout. Particularly the piece between the encounter with Andeomache and Menelaus stood out. The piece was more or less a modern dance displaying the trials of the Trojan women. It was beautiful to watch. The chorus did a fantastic job at conveying the pain and sorrow they had suffered.
The attention to detail in the set is incredible. Part of the stage juts out into the first few rows of the audience. There was visual aid up stage and it did not take away from the story but actually added to it. There are pictures to add to the set of the stage and there are a few clips of characters.
There is a platform up stage as well. It is placed in front of the screen but not interfering with the performance stage. On the platform, characters would pose to show different emotions for a scene. Soldiers would show different battle positions. The actors would hit the positions as if they were from a drawing on pottery.
There is great use of shadows during the play as well. All the chorus and the soldiers are shown in shadows for scene transition and it is another great visual aid.
Shadows are a fantastic way to move a story along. It is simple, but it can give more meaning to the story.
Some of the characters would be sent away from their home, Troy. When this happened, they would walk off the stage and into the isles into a bright white light while a simple video clip of the character in white robes played on the stage. The video clips give more meaning to the characters because it adds to the emotion. It is a powerful scene to watch.
All the lead actors delivered their important speeches with confidence and with appropriate tone and emotion. The audience will physically feel the emphasis in each character’s voice. The chorus was good as well. The smaller details like slight trembling of their hands or body shows adds to the misery and powerfully conveyed emotion.
Hecuba, played by Katelyn Johnson, did an excellent job at portraying a fallen queen. She did well showing her pain of her losses displaying the scarred emotions.
Talthybius, played by Nathan Wilson, plays a Greek solider who passes messages to the Trojan women. He is the one Greek that seems to have sympathy for the Trojans, because he seems reluctant to take away a baby from Andromache, played by Sarah Myers. Wilson plays his role well and gives his character almost a Trojan heart despite being Greek.
Cassandra, played LaToya Curtis, is the daughter of Hecuba. Cassandra has gone mad and predicts her death but none of the other women think much of it. Curtis did a wonderful portrayal of this character, giving the impression of being both crazy and lost.
Menelaus, played by Thomas Williams, played a strong king. Williams gave his character a palpable power, ruthless and intimidating leadership role.
Helen, played by Samira Williams, didn’t shine though. There was no problem with her delivery of lines, but the emotion didn’t come off in the way that a woman who just caused the fall of an empire should have. Through no fault of the actress, the script made Helen out to look weak instead of the strong woman the character is in many other plays like “Helen.”
The “Trojan Women” can be seen at the Erica Starr Theater at 8 p.m. on Oct. 17, 18, and