Jay Allen Sanford 8 a.m., Dec. 13
The face that launched 1000 ships didn't? Homer got it wrong? Holy Iliad, Batman! In 412 BCE, Euripides punctured Greece's greatest mythological balloon: Helen never went to Troy, he contends. Her husband Menelaus hid her in a cave to wait out the war (for which she was merely a scapegoat, not the cause). When the play begins, tragedy looms: Helen, the most hated person on earth, is in Egypt, at the tomb of Proteus. She's been a "virtuous wife" but now fears that her husband's dead, and King Theoclymenus wants to marry her, or else. Somehow, and only an iconoclast like Euripides could swing it, the play turns from tragedy to a reasonably happy ending (for a fascinating history of the Helen myth, see Bettany Hughes's Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore). The Theatre, Inc., is staging the play in a crisp new translation by Marianne McDonald and J. Michael Walton. The production isn't always equal to the text's seriocomic mood swings, however. It flits and starts in non sequiturs. Plus, sound's a problem throughout, from recorded speeches that blur the words to Brian Abraham's mumbling as Theoclymenus and especially as Teucer. Douglas Lay's Menelaus, in modern garb (and a Greek sailor's cap), adds energy, and the lively chorus (Bianca Chapman, Vanessa Milton, and Melissa Hamilton) performs choreographed moves (uncredited) that add richness and urgency. Robin Christ has an affinity for Greek drama's most tragic women. She proves it once again as Helen, tormented, cursed ("a name can be many places at once, but not a body"), and, in this play at least, finally set free.
Worth a try.
When: Ongoing until Sunday, August 3, 2008
- Sundays, 2pm
- Thursdays, 8pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 8pm