The intensite begins from the moment you walk into the theatre. Soldiers with rifles and gas masks look you up and down right after Fringe volunteers take your ticket.
Inside, all you can hear are radio signals through the Mead Theatre’s speakers, and all you can see are the women of the cast staring blankly ahead as audience members take their seats. The prison set doesn’t change throughout the play, which is approriate, since the goal is to make the audience feel that they are sitting right there in prison with the women and soldiers they watch. The atmosphere was dark, intense, and, at times, eery.
Set within the basic frames of Euripedes’ original works, Trojan Women and Hecuba, Trojan Women 2.0 by Charles L. Mee takes place in a nuclear wasteland after a bomb codenamed ‘Trojan Horse’ has resulted in the destruction of the city and captivation of women prisoners. Soldiers control every element of life including who leaves, who comes, who gets fed, and who lives. However, this doesn’t stop the woman from sharing stories after the lights go out.
The dark and difficult subject matters are sometimes hard to hear. The six paragraph “Prisoners Handbook” in the show’s program says “…some of the stories you’ll hear tonight are as real as they are wrenching. They are the testimonials of victims, from Hiroshima to Saravejo. Real suffering, real loss, as told by those who survived them.”
The women discuss relationships from their past, as well as what their future fate will be. Monologues about sex, men, death, family, love, and revenge captivate the audience and made for a very entertaining and dramatic 60 minutes.
Samantha McEwen, who plays Eisa, let us listen to her beautiful voice when she sang a few short songs A Capella, and each actor and actress kept their intensity levels and focus at a maximum for the entire show. There were no dull moments and no weak links among the performers as we watched the dramatic story of these victims unfold.
Amitiyah Elayne Hyman (Hecuba) did a particularly great job connecting with the audience when she portrays Hecuba’s passion for her family, and the revenge she seeks on the men who have destroyed their lives. Leanne Dinverno (Polyxena) also stood out for giving an outstanding monologue when she volunteers her identity to the enemy, which she knows will lead to her death. Thomas Leo McGrath plays a great bad guy when his character, Talthybius, carries out the despicable orders from the men in charge.
The acting was great, the dialogue was excellent, and the performance by the cast made for a great dramatic Fringe production.
Trojan Women 2.0 has 3 more performances in the Mead Theatre at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th Street NW, Washington, DC.