By Anthony Lopez |Staff Writer|
In the intimate setting of the Ronald E. Barnes Theater, the epic tale by Euripides, “The Trojan Women: A Love Story,” was wonderfully performed this Friday night by the CSUSB Department of Theatre Arts.
Euripides’ story is originally set in Troy and Greece at the end of The Trojan War, giving an account of what happened to the women of Troy. It then switches into a tale of the Greek men returning from war, but is given a contemporary interpretation with the adaption by the playwright Charles L. Mee, all to the delight of the audience.
In this modern production, Mee has soldiers carry Uzis instead of spears and talk about tanks and helicopters in place of chariots and ships, all the while expanding the major themes of the original play. For both the environment and depth of the story, the play is a success for the CSUSB Theatre Arts Department.
The story dives into mature themes, such as the suffering of women and children during war, the role of women, honor and even philosophical ideas of fate and free will. Questions arose about the role of women during the chaos of war with an echoing background of humor and drama.
Mary Chaplin, a resident of San Bernardino, said, “I enjoyed it, it was a much deeper version of the play that I’ve ever seen.”
One of the biggest reasons why the audience left satisfied was because the company was able to weave the story through worthy performances, entertain the individual and pose interesting questions about gender roles in society.
The performance of the ensemble cast did a great job of communicating the themes of the story. Alexandra Juarez gave a strong performance as the dethroned queen Hecuba, T.J. Sloan gave an entertaining presentation of Talthybius, Julian Monk showed depth as both Bill in the prologue and Eddie in the play and Kristie Lynn Uhler showed some killer vocals as Cassandra while singing “Helter Skelter.”
“I think [the play] is really prevalent to today, with the war we are in,” said Sloan. “I don’t think people [realize] how war affects women sometimes and this play showcases that. ”
In these discussions on the atrocities committed during war, the chorus talks about the experiences that they go through. It includes everything from domestic violence, rape and other abuses, with each woman telling her sad tale.
Yet despite the gloom of the topics, the play is entertaining with the musical numbers and the quick wit of the script. The usage of contemporary tunes like “Helter Skelter,” “Candy,” and “Blue Moon” mesh well with the play.
“The show was actually great, it is very powerful, very moving at times, it can be a lot of fun at other times,” said Theatre Arts Box Office Manager Josh Gren. “It is just a really great mix of music, emotion, and raw power.”
“I really enjoyed the pre-show, that happens before the audience gets into it, before the show really starts, where the girls have an opportunity to be themselves and entertain, before the horrible comes down on them, so I’d encourage audience members to come early.” continued Gren.
The overall atmosphere was engaging. The stage brought to mind the destruction of a city. The backdrop had a painted building torn in half revealing the 5 story structure, along with the back of a beat and broken up beetle stuck on side of a wall that released smoke.
The awesome backdrop was reminiscent of a real war zone.
Yet the environment was very manipulative, with Rick Hoglund and Sean Longstreet playing music to fit the mood controlling the audience with each chord. Furthermore, their music was spot-on while the performers sang their tunes.
“The Trojan Women” runs until Nov. 18, with showings on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinee shows available on Sundays at 2 p.m.