‘Trojan Barbie: A Car-Crash Encounter with Euripides’ Trojan Women’ at Georgetown University by Nicole Cusick

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What could be a more intriguing way to begin a show that covering the house of a theatre with strands of dismembers Barbie dolls hanging across the isles?
There is no lack of spectacle or talent in Georgetown’s final production of the semester in their ‘War and Peace’ season than Trojan Barbie: A Car-Crash Encounter with Euripides’ Trojan Women. The energetic play by Christine Evans and directed by Maya E. Roth made its regional debut Thursday night at the Gonda Theatre at the Davis Performing Arts Center on campus.

The cast of 'Trojan Barbie.' Photo courtesy of Georgetown University.
The cast of ‘Trojan Barbie.’ Photo courtesy of Georgetown University.

Evans best described the show herself as a “postmodern collision of the times Trojan Barbie dramatizes.” The show is a brilliant commentary on what we think is most important in life juxtaposed with the tragedy of the women of Euripides.
It opens with Lottie (Alice Neave) preparing for her singles getaway to Troy. Lottie works in England repairing dolls and speaks to them like they are real patients. Neave’s performance often lightens the scenes with her admirable comedic timing as the token outsider who is taken away to the Trojan women’s camp as opposed to her all inclusive singles resort.

The Trojan women include most notably Polly X (Zoe Lillian), Cassandra (Betsy Helmer), and Andromache (Molly Roach). These actors are extremely committed in their performances. Lillian portrays an over-dramatic – yet comical – Trojan teen who is taken from her family with a passion for modern sculpture. Helmer’s physicality is scene stealing in her efforts to urge the other to heed her warning of what lurks in the future of Troy. Lastly, Roach portrays a suffering mother who wants nothing more to see her son spared from being sacrificed. Her breakdown scene was extremely touching.

The cast is rounded out by Helen (Alexandra Waldon) who brought the vanity of Helen to a whole new level, as a contemporary “Real Housewife of Troy”-esque diva like quality. She commands the stage with each entrance. The students involved with show had a special treat in that Hecuba is played by Elisabeth Lewis Corley, a professional actor who making her DC debut with this production. She brought the experience of playing a mother suffering the loss of all of her children in the way an actor only with the experience she has gained over the years could have portray.

Georgetown University student Betsy Helmer as Cassandra. Photo courtesy of Georgetown University.
Georgetown University student Betsy Helmer as Cassandra. Photo courtesy of Georgetown University.

A committed ensemble of other Trojan women and soldiers grounded the production. The women play true to Euripides form while the men portray modern soldiers of the Iraq war in perfect balance.

The overall design of the show is very cohesive in the sense that the set by Debra Kim Sivigny of the military base made of all difference levels of scaffolding covered with burlap sheets looks incredible under Robbie Hayes’ lights. The lights just seem to flow into the sheets that were draped differently for each scene. It was truly beautiful, and brought the audience to the desert of Troy instantly. The lighting brings the audience to so many different worlds during the show that the spectacle of it all is truly magical.

Frank Labovits’ costumes are also brilliantly inclusive of the Barbie doll theme of the show when it came down to all of the little details. Lottie and Helen are dressed to a “T” like a little set of vacation ware and Diva-style Barbie. Their costumes were brightly colored and truly stood out on stage. The doll element carried through the costumes of the Trojan women as well down to the very details like the bracelet that Polly X wore that is a charm bracelet of Barbie doll hands and feet.

Roth’s direction produced a truly innovative work. This piece speaks far beyond being a typical adaptation of a classical work or some self-indulgent contemporary war story. Thursday’s performance ended with an opening night celebration as well as the Evan’s holding a small book signing of her new anthology, War Plays.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Photo courtesy of Georgetown University.
Photo courtesy of Georgetown University.

Trojan Barbie plays through Saturday, April 20, 2013 at the Gonda Theatre in the Davis Performing Arts Center- 37th and O St., N.W., in Washington, DC on the campus of Georgetown University. Performances are on Thursday-Saturday, April 11-13th at 8 p.m.  Sunday, April 14th at 2 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, April 17-20th at 8 p.m. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 687-ARTS (2787), or purchase them online.


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