The theater invites audiences to explore that which makes us most human. Originally produced in 415 B.C., Euripides’ The Trojan Women paints a world of pain and heartache, where the women of Troy must face the terrors of a lost war. It is thanks to director and founder of the newly established Globe Online, Arielle Seidman-Joria, that the company’s inaugural Zoom production is a high quality and heartfelt evening with moments of excellence.
The director, now functioning as the stage manager as well, first illustrates a war-torn city and a bedraggled group—the defeated Trojan women, destined for enslavement. The ancients come to life on the stage, or in this case, the screen, as we are transported back to the Trojan War. Immediately, a regal presence fills the screen, her grief palpable. As Hecuba, Queen of Troy, Elizabeth Weiss provides an unmatched depth of character. Her performance mimics a layered painting, leaving one immersed in sorrow, yet prideful. “Weep for me, crown of misery,” she cries to the heavens, and the image of her bathed in spotlight on a barren stage arises.
Weiss continuously builds from one scene to the next. One such moment is found with Sarah Pfanz as Cassandra, who strikes a brilliant contrast to her mother’s woe. The raging daughter proclaims death to the Greeks, and Pfanz’s manic and energetic performance should strike fear into the hearts of men everywhere. Later, the Queen ferociously defends the truth of the woman who lay waste to her city, Helen. Kripa Patwardhan, playing Helen, and Weiss volley back and forth like Serena and Venus Williams as tension, angst, and discord build. They erupt in a fervor that reminds us of William Congreve’s oft-repeated line: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Small elements of costuming and makeup, like a shawl, vest, or painted eyes, add a dimension of live theater. The bathing of Poseidon in sunlight and the hanging of a window curtain further convinces viewers that they could be sitting in front of the actors. The production would have benefited from additional pieces of set, costumes, and makeup, of course, but also if consistency of visuals existed between the actors. Much of the cast performs the ancient text like poetry, embracing an archaic speech pattern and rhyme scheme. While a great strength, the overall mastery made errors even more glaring, with some lines seeming to be delivered to friends at the mall, as opposed to combatants at war.
These small notes fail to detract from the high level of professionalism the cast presents to their virtual viewers, as the ensemble remains engaged in the saddest of woes and weeps alongside the Trojan queen, following her to the bitter end. One ensemble member, Francesca Cesaro, captured my full attention each time she spoke, demonstrating superior command of her lines, their delivery, and a clear devotion to Troy and its queen. Cesaro emboldens the audience to dive deeper, to let go of expectations and distraction, and instead to focus on the actors who strive diligently to bring the burning world of Troy to viewers.
Now, more than ever, we need distractions, and one form is local theater performed via Zoom. Globe Online embraces an online platform to share the stories of our civilization. As we mourn lost plans, lost jobs, and lost loved ones, inviting the production of The Trojan Women to explore grief and sorrow in the comfort of your home might be exactly what you need.
The performance is available to stream now at facebook.com/goglobeonline.