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Washington-Lee's 'Trojan Women' : Justice for a Classic

Kevin Place, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School, reviews Washington-Lee's production of "The Trojan Woman."

“The Trojan Women” was first performed near Athens in the year 415 B.C. while Greece was entangled in the brutal Peloponnesian Wars. Now, more than 2,000 years later, its antiwar message is still quite relevant, a message that Washington-Lee High School delivered proudly Saturday afternoon.

The once-great kingdom of Troy has been destroyed by 10 years of war with the Greeks, and only the proud Trojan women, led by their queen, Hecuba (Anne Donnelly), are left to fend for their way of life. This is how Euripides’ great tragedy, adapted by Jean-Paul Sartre and translated by Ronald Duncan, begins.

Throughout the play, the women of Troy face oppression and terrible hardship at the hands of the Greeks with great pride and with an unwillingness to lose all they believe in.

Washington-Lee’s production revolved around this 10-person chorus of destitute Trojan women. Their ensemble provided an anchor for the show and lent its energy to the cast as a whole.

Playing the part of Hecuba, Anne Donnelly took a challenging role with lots of dialogue and created a character whose tragic loss was very believable. Rebecca Pratt, playing Andromache, epitomized a mother’s grief as her son is dragged off to be killed, and Ahmad Helmy, as Poseidon, commanded attention as he delivered monologues grieving for the loss of his people and seeking revenge on the other gods. Overall, the cast did a nice job developing creative characters that engaged the audience; however, a couple of performers hit only one note with their portrayals, overlooking the diverse potential of these rich characters.

The representation of the city of Troy, in the form of multileveled platforms, worked well with the show’s large cast but did create some minor distractions as actors moved on and off the set. The decision to costume the characters in a mix of period and modern styles added a new dimension. The lighting and sound design subtly added to the show while not taking away from the action on stage.

The students at Washington-Lee took a challenging script and many ambitious design ideas to portray the tragedies of the Trojans.

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 12, 2008; 11:44 AM ET
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