The Flea mounts Ellen McLaughlin’s Bosnian War-inspired adaptation of Euripides' classic starring its resident acting company, the Bats. More…
The women of Troy have been sold into slavery. Their husbands are dead, their city destroyed, and it seems as though the gods have forgotten them. As they wait to be taken away, the women grapple with grief, fear and the gravity of total loss. 'The Trojan Women' is the first anti-war play in the Western canon, written to make Greece consider the consequences of perpetual warfare. This production makes abundant use of music, movement, and ritual to explore how living in wartime impacts every member of a community.
"Under Anne Cecelia Haney's measured, yet relentless, direction, the play's implacable march to a place where hope no longer exists remains steadily engrossing and often powerfully affecting. Working with The Bats, she has overseen several fine performances...Modern costumes point out what is probably the production's biggest weakness...Another weakness is the stylized movement...What is right with this production far outweighs what is questionable about it." Full Review
“Although Ellen McLaughlin’s new adaptation makes some changes to the Euripides original, it retains its power pertinent for our own time in the wake of the refugee crisis. While at times callow, Anne Cecelia Haney’s production for The Bats is persuasive, potent and poignant. It also provides an excellent introduction to the plays that make up Greek tragedy for those who have not experienced them on stage.” Full Review
"Trimming the script to a brisk 60 minutes, adapter Ellen McLaughlin highlights the play’s themes of remembrance, identity and survival…McLaughlin and director Anne Cecelia Haney wisely don’t oversell the relevance of the narrative. Its universality speaks for itself…The cast delivers the confident, visceral work for which the Bats are well known. Their unaffected approach to this challenging material potently embodies both the mythic and the modern elements of the text." Full Review
"It is the human tension of the play that rings through McLaughlin’s words and lifts the story into beautiful, complex territories...This adaptation of Euripides’ antebellum narrative, if occasionally flighty, is moving and cinematic in its scope...The plot is held together by the barest of backbones, and for all the characters’ elegies and monologues, there are times when the postwar narrative seems too forced, too distant. But when we are reminded, it is powerful." Full Review
"A solid and vibrantly acted production...One of the problems with more traditional presentations of 'The Trojan Women' is that Hecuba can often come off as a bottomless vessel of misery, pouring her self-pity all over the stage to the point where it barely registers. McLaughlin mitigates this by refocusing attention on the other women...Choreographer Powell attempts to bring a sense of ritual to the stage, but it often feels like a massive distraction from otherwise earthy performances." Full Review
"There is a sense of tribal rituals in McLaughlin’s adaptation of 'The Trojan Women'...furiously acted by The Bats...This production, though only an hour, is solid but heavy in its message and disconnect. Much has been cut and if you do not know this tale of woe you may not understand some of what has happened...The lights and sound design are dark and ominous, as is the direction...War is becoming an everyday occurrence...This play shows the numbness we have succumbed to." Full Review
"Anti-war plays are always relevant, though this particular production doesn’t have many concrete historical or timely references…Lead by Hecuba, a queen in exile (intense and unbreakable DeAnna Supplee), the women of Troy are fighting fear and despair…A fighting/dancing scene is beautifully staged by the choreographer Joya Powell. The sound design and the lighting highlight the slow-mo moments of the fight, making it even more surreal and terrifying." Full Review
"Euripides wrote 'The Trojan Women' two millennia ago, and its relevance still astounds…The choreography feels distracting at times and the ensemble’s youthful energy can work against the somber themes of this very old story, but there are powerful performances…Euripides wrote his little anti-war play two thousand years ago and it is still powerful, an age-old story that we never seem to learn from." Full Review
"Dances are deftly delivered, speeches are articulately delivered, yes. But the depth of experience behind the devastation of the war-torn universe of the play is not quite evoked. I yearned for vocal quality variation…The insistent delivery of meaningful speeches was wearying...Yet, I was pleased to go along this intermission-less ride…And some speeches held me rapt…This adaptation of the myth of real human historical tragedy of war merits multiple productions more." Full Review
"The pained clarity and blunt poetry of McLaughlin’s text retain some power even when delivered in a horse of wooden acting. With few exceptions—such as Wortmann as Andromache—the young actors of the Bats, under Haney’s earnest direction, lack the gravitas to pull off this material, and the intimacy of the Flea’s tiny basement theater is unmerciful. They give it the old college try, but the result, alas, too often evokes college theater." Full Review
"Haney struggles to bring the Trojans' story to life. Performers deliver choral text in tones that suggest self-consciousness about classical poetry, rather than moment-by-moment emotion. There are wistfully harmonious songs, and swoopy ensemble choreography...but both elements are overly recognizable, and the staging feels too familiar to shock us into connecting with the Trojans' plight...Occasionally, the young performers from the Bats find ways to ignite feeling." Full Review
"This 'Trojan Women' tends to be overwhelmed by these intrinsic difficulties of Euripides's text, exclaiming emotion more often than truly demonstrating it…When it's all said and done, you can't help but marvel at the tremendously tragic tale, but ‘The Trojan Women’ hasn't crossed the crucial line between jolting and heartbreaking…The end result isn't distasteful, but there's the disappointment of a missed opportunity. You want to feel devastated, but what you get hews closer to numbness." Full Review
"The current production makes the play, that is a cascade of dramatically intense situations, action and ideas, seem static. The directing depends on outdated ideas of what Greek tragedy should look and sound like…The set and costuming are burdened by the same unimaginative vision. The Bats are, like the rest of the production, burdened by the obvious. These actors speak, however, with clarity and projection, and if you go, you will hear every word–and that’s worth plenty!" Full Review
"Though lovely, McLaughlin’s rich imagery becomes at times repetitive…The chorus’s constant repetition of each others’ words, grounded in distressing physical movement, diminish the emotional impact of the piece through sometimes overly frantic performances…The play at times becomes too oratory, as the increasing loudness feels jarring in the small space. However, this makes the moments of silence stand out, lending a meaningful juxtaposition to the play’s quieter monologues." Full Review
“'Whatever you dream,' Poseidon (Thomas Muccioli) says, 'even the most horrifying dream cannot be worse than what you will awake to.' The production seems, in a way, to heed his counsel. There’s a hollow, anesthetized quality to the performance, and it’s a hindrance...The primary impression this production leaves is that the depth of the characters’ suffering is foreign to these artists — even as stories of urban dwellers racked by war come to us in the news every day." Full Review
"Ellen McLaughlin’s adaptation focuses on the wasted lives that war leaves in its wake. And its theme, of course, is timeless…Modestly staged by Anne Cecelia Haney, this translation is performed by The Flea’s resident acting company, known as The Bats, not well served by Joya Powell’s distracting choreography. Perhaps because of their youth and relative inexperience, they declaim the choral text, never seeming to grasp the emotional subtlety, which is as relevant today as it was back then." Full Review
"In a world where this story has seen an array of reinventions, what, if anything, did this new production offer?...What resulted in 'The Trojan Woman' was a melodramatically one-note drama that fell a bit short. Director Anne Cecelia Haney’s direction was ambitiously uninspiring. Whether it was the concept or the company’s overall lack of connection to the material, 'The Trojan Women' never quite found its footing. The piece seemed to be in a constant state of chaos and confusion." Full Review
"The young actors struggle against the demands of the semi-poetic dialogue and the incessant sorrow they must convey. But they're totally overwhelmed by the task. Not even when Andromache’s baby is torn from her arms does the production carry the emotional punch required. This 'Trojan Women' delivers its message; it fails, though, to deliver the goods." Full Review
See it if Appreciate an ancient story brought into the 21 century. Surprisingly relevant and as heartbreaking today as the story was 3200 years ago.
Don't see it if You insist on elaborate staging or costumes. It's a stripped down performance with less props than even the Greeks would have used.
See it if you like supporting young artists, or like to see adaptations of greek tragedy/like greek tragedy.
Don't see it if you can't sit through overly poetic language, very cliched college theatre-esque performances and directorial choices.
See it if you like classical theatre, and Greek mythology. You like to support young artists, like plays about women. Like poetry.
Don't see it if you prefer major productions, creative costume design, or colorful theatre display. If you don't care for greek mythology.
See it if You love history and being truly immersed in a show. The actors have a way of making the audience members feel the raw emotions.
Don't see it if you have no soul.
See it if You seek catharsis from your theatre and enjoy experiencing ancient texts through a contemporary lens
Don't see it if You need plastic, polished performances. You don't like highly intimate spaces. You don't like to be deeply shaken.
See it if You like supporting young artists. New York needs more venues where amateur artists can gain some real experience. Its got to be tough....
Don't see it if You were expecting professional quality based on the advertisements. The playwright's a big deal, but I think its more for the kids involved
See it if You want to support The Flea for your own reasons.
Don't see it if If you're going to hype something as this high profile, you'd better deliver. This is high school level theater, maybe undergraduate level.
See it if you feel compelled to I suppose....
Don't see it if you dont want to see one more production by entitled, self promotional faux feminists with a ticket to ride. What's happening to this town?
See it if you like Greek drama or classical theater. Great staging and a couple of truly fantastic performances. Simple and straightforward.
Don't see it if you don't want to be challenged. This is heavy stuff and fairly academic. A very bare bones production.
See it if You are related to one of The Bats in the cast. They need your support.
Don't see it if You were encouraged by McLaughlin's Septimus and Clarissa, or any versions of the play about town in the last 20 years. This is not them.
See it if You've never seen The Trojan Women perhaps?
Don't see it if You want an aesthetically pleasing evening at the theater. Beat over the head with "the message" - performances & directing are overwrought.
See it if you like to be challenged at the theater. This is not an easy piece to watch, but it is magnificently well-done.
Don't see it if you are a cold human who doesn't practice empathy.
See it if you want to support young actors fully committing to a difficult text.
Don't see it if you don't have a spare hour to encourage the next generation of actors and theatre makers.
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