Women of Troy tells the story of Greek and Trojan women in the Trojan War that fought to live, against all odds. Lisa Kuma has adapted the plays Iphigenia at Aulis, Hecuba and The Trojan Women to tell stories from both sides of the war. The first act is concerned mostly with Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his eldest daughter Iphigenia and how his wife, Clytemnestra fights with all her might to stop this from happening. In the second act, the Trojan women are the focus, as the battle has been lost and the Greeks are claiming Troy and the all occupants, particularly the women, for themselves. It details the determination of Hecuba and other Trojan women to survive and to save their children.
What is most exciting about this performance is the venue. The fun of an open air theatre extends beyond novelty, and becomes an arena where the sounds, the lights and the setting sun create a theatre experience that is entirely unique and full of character. The choice of play is perfect considering such a space. The heroic narrative, dramatic dialogue and passionate performances fill the space under a slowly darkening sky. The epic nature of a Greek tragedy finds a perfect home in the public theatre space by the river.
The cast are impassioned, driving the highly charged dramatic impulse of the show. They maintain a strong level of dramatic intensity throughout the performance; the energy never drops. This does make for two acts of powerful Greek theatre on a grand scale, but once again, the venue makes up for this by virtue of its structure. The cast used the audience steps as entrances and exits for the characters and the wide stage space was not limited by curtains or wings which allowed for the world of the play to swell and stretch up into the sky.
Gods and Monsters, however, are offering the public free, accessible theatre in the heart of London and there is no wrong there. Asked to donate after the show, the performance is still free to watch and enjoy, either five feet from the cast or at a bar nearby, where the poetic language reaches out across the river. Delivering free art to the public is a hugely generous gesture which should not go unnoticed.
Women of Troy is an adaptation not without its problems, but as far as a night out at the theatre goes, the production delivers completely with a spectacular show by the riverside in the heart of London. The slowly darkening sky over the open stage ensures a magical experience for all those who care to partake. And when a company is so generously giving such an epic performance for free, you’d be mad to pass it up.
By Hayley Ricketson