The Trojan Women

Euripides
The Riverside Theatre Company
Greenside @ Nicolson Square

The Trojan Women

As we take our seats in the Greenside Emerald Theatre, the tone of the show is instantly established by the very still bodies of the cast that are scattered about the stage. The Greeks have won the Trojan War. But that is never the end of the story as Euripides illustrates in this clear, impressive production of his play by the Riverside Theatre Company from Chichester.

Women are gathered to hear their fate. The men of Troy have all been killed but the women are a different matter. Someone comments, “all things changed so men’s lust can be fed.”

These women are the loot, the trophies of war. The Greek messenger Talthybius, given a fine, measured performance by Lucas Bradshaw, arrives to reveal what is to happen to them. He tells the huddled group that the Greek soldiers have divided up the women as property, each one being assigned to some man, the leading figures getting the first choice.

Hecuba, strongly played by Ella O’Keefe, is horrified that she is assigned to Odysseus. Cassandra (Ruby-Mae Scrine) is less bothered that she is to be given to Agamemnon, for she has the gift of prophecy which means she knows they will both be killed. But of course, she is never believed and is just dragged off to her new master.

Helen (Eliza Dominy) gets no sympathy from anyone. How dare she choose what happens to her body and leave Greece for Troy without permission. The Greeks will put a stop to that kind of thing by taking her back to Greece for execution.

Children are a different matter. Andromache, played movingly by Alexia Procca, is told by Talthybius that her baby must die. The child is taken away but the dead body is brought back carefully for burial by Talthybius. He is clearly uneasy about what he has had to do. I expect if ever a Nuremberg trial was held, he would claim he was only following orders.

Finally, the women’s hands are tied behind their backs and they are forcibly taken away to the beds and slavery of the Greek soldiers.

And in case anyone should think this is simply the anti-war softy Euripides spinning a no longer relevant yarn, go check out even our sleepy legacy media and you will find news reports of conflicts where women are still being carted off to some uncertain future.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna