Theater Review: ‘The Trojan Women’ — classic drama remains contemporary

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

The production of The Trojan Women at Rockford College, directed by Deborah Mogford, is a heart-wrenching interpretation of Euripedes’ story of the victims of the Trojan War. The women gather on the stark stage almost reminiscent of the remains of the Twin Towers … a most appropriate setting.

Greek mythology and its classic prediction of man’s fate as a foretold destiny brings every detail of the Trojan tragedy to life. Mogford’s choices of cast are brilliant. These students perform as well as many professional companies. Megan Woodley is Hecuba, mourning the loss of husband, Priam, her sons and the two daughters, Cassandra (Erin Farste) and Andromache (Raenna Larson), who are to become the wives of their conquerors. The deepest tragedy of all is the murder of Hector’s son, the only heir to the throne of Troy. Rafael Gahan appears clutching his teddy bear, and his grandmother, Hecuba, begs the guards for his life.

Woodley is absolutely amazing as the matriarch. Dominating the stage, her talent brings tears as we grieve with her. Larson’s rage and intensity equal that of her mother, while Farste in an unsurpassed wedding gown almost seems to accept her fate.

Menelaus (Eric Woelbling), the Greek king, appears to claim his wife, Helen (Lisa Revis). In modern dress and wearing dark glasses, he seems more a corporate executive than a Spartan king. Helen’s 4-inch gold sandals and lime green designer dress complete the picture. Wailing that her life must be spared, she leaves the stage with Menelaus as he hands her a pair of dark glasses. It is so corporate America.

Poseidon (Alex J. Smith) and Athena (Rachel Beckemeyer) open the drama with the point of view of the gods. The cast also consists of the women of the chorus, Christina Lewis, Amelia Francesco, Jesse Morgan, Audra Giachino, Susie Matthews and Rachel Bean, who give the drama much of its structure. Dakota Bryant is Talthybius, and the two guards are Drew Brantley and Zachary Pletcher. Dressed as modern soldiers, their uniforms lend another sense of reality.

Having seen The Trojan Women at the Goodman several years ago, I was prepared for the drama, but the intensity of this performance completely overwhelmed me. Jillian Christenson’s brilliant ideas for the innovative costume are superb. Mogford’s direction and staging supports her actors beautifully. Speaking with my friend Gordon Odegard following the performance, we both agreed that it was one of the best we have seen.

The students of Rockford College join Artists’ Ensemble April 25 through 28 to present Meet Me in St. Louis. Tickets are now on sale. Call (815) 226-4100. Plan your spring theater.

From the March 6-12, 2013, issue

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