Review: Passion Of Trojan Women – Mercury Theatre, Colchester

The most chilling tales in the aftermath of war and conflict often come from the civilian population. Across the centuries we hear repeated anecdotes of suffering from the women and families far away from the front line. Euripides captured the suffering of Cassandra, Hecuba, Clytemnestra, Polyxena, Helen and the rest of the unfortunate Women of Troy, but it’s a tale that has been retold, revised and revisited across the generations.

Now Italy’s Cantieri Teatrali Koreja has taken an international ensemble to explore these tragic themes through movement, percussion, music and drama. Multiple languages merge and fuse to create a work full of rhythm and ritual, a feeling that this is a timeless tale repeated through the ages.

There’s a strong sense of ritual but, alongside the controlled and processional precision, there is also a Bacchic frenzy, whipped up by passion and frustration. The two are intricately balanced with a sense that, despite the desire to conform and maintain normality in the face of horror, the primal urge to scream and fight is just below the surface.

There is also a strong sense of the power of women when united. Despite the oppression of individuals, there is a resilience and strength when acting as a whole.

There are strong performances across the multi-national ensemble of Gina Isaac, Vladimir Tuliev, Tanya Gigova, Alina Czyewska, Antonella Lallrenzi, Vito De Lorenzi and Mariarosaria Ponzetta. Giorgia Maddamma’s movement creates a rich, multi-layered visual feast while De Lorenzi’s percussive underscoring is integrated into the drama seamlessly.

The ensemble staging does make it difficult to fully engage with individual characters at times and the comedy climax slightly detracts from the power of the piece but, overall, this is an engaging piece of physical theatre that transcends language barriers.

Orginally written for The Public Reviews

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