Opened 5 Aug 2009
Written: by Euripides in a new version by Frank McGuinness
Directed: Deborah Bruce
Cast: Penny Downie (Helen), Paul McGann (Menelaus)
Synopsis: Seven years have passed since the end of the Trojan War and Menelaus, King of Sparta and husband to Helen, is making his slow and painful way home. When his ship is wrecked on the coast of Egypt he stumbles upon what seems to be his wife lingering outside the royal palace. But if this is the real Helen, who was the beautiful woman stolen by Paris, for whom all Greece took up arms? Did Troy fall for nothing? Has it all been some god’s idea of a joke?
What the popular press had to say.....
HENRY HITCHINGS for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Deborah Bruce’s direction has verve but there are too many ideas competing for space." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "Deborah Bruce’s production, set in an Egyptian graveyard, deftly combines ancient and modern, the serious and the frivolous, and the evening is powered by a terrific performance from Penny Downie...This rare revival of an undervalued classic proves the jewel in the Globe’s crown this season." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "It's a playful, witty affair and there are moments when the production captures the appropriate lightness...The play itself is eminently worth reviving but here it becomes little more than a jolly romp, spattered with four-letter words and missing the peculiar Euripdean mix of satire and romance." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "It’s Euripides’s scepticism about war that’s unmissable. The Trojan War, with all its terrible destruction, was fought “for nothing”, or at least for an “illusion” as great as, say, the claim that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destructions...The fun sometimes seems forced. Nor could I see why the chorus of slaves, who look like Balkan ragamuffins, was led by a counter-tenor in a white tuxedo; yet the point still comes across. Troy was needlessly destroyed. Greeks were needlessly killed. As the chorus says, damnation to all warmongers." SUSAN ELKIN for THE STAGE says, "Although it is entertaining, this show sometimes stray perilously close to gimmickry in the pursuit of laughs and theatrical diversions."
Production photo by Keith Pattison