Hecuba: It’s Not Easy Being Queen

 

Hecuba is a modernized retelling of the classic tragedy by Euripides. In this first-rate production at Brown, the titular character is the Queen of Troy.

Throughout the story there were sometimes graphic depictions of the horrors of war and the inhumanity of man. Hecuba’s (Maya Blake) beloved city has been destroyed by the Greek army; her husband, King Priam, and many of her children have been killed; and to top it all off, she is now enslaved by the Greeks. Despite all her suffering, Hecuba remains a strong-willed woman who soldiers on under seemingly unendurable circumstances.

I won’t provide any spoilers; suffice to say that more tragedies are about to befall Hecuba.

Blake gives a nicely nuanced performance, allowing us to glimpse the pain underneath Hecuba’s refined demeanor. This is a woman with a lot of pride who isn’t shy about expressing her contempt for the soldiers who have raped and pillaged her country.

James Wenz was also quite effective as Agamemnon, chief of the Greek army. Agamemnon explains to one of his subordinates that the things that matter most to him are food, sex and winning wars. Wenz provides a tongue-in-cheek parody of a macho warrior.

I also enjoyed the work of Jeremy Roth-Rose as Hecuba’s beloved son Polydorus, Athena O. Washburn as the brash Cassandra, and Clementine Quittner as the doomed Polyxena. Shannon Sotomayor shines as Polymestor, who loses his sight in a violent act of retribution.

Sienna Vann’s direction was confident and polished. She handled several complicated scenes very well, including a bloody human sacrifice. Josh Cape’s atmospheric set design, which featured huge granite boulders that were moved about the stage, was impressive.

Coming on the heels of two other superior shows, Hecuba continues the high quality of this season’s offerings from Brown University’s theater department.

Hecuba was performed at Brown University, December 1-4.

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