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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    On the Stage: Women of Trachis

    When you hear Greek tragedies, Oedipus the King is probably what strikes first. But Sophocles’ genius extended beyond this unfortunate story to give us a tragedy about female empowerment. The Women of Trachis is filled with intrigue, sexual mannerisms and a plot that is so universal it could be happening right now with your next door neighbor. Hence, the urban backdrop combines Diet Coke and desperate housewives within the realm of a Greek tragedy.

    The Ohio Theater is now hosting a contemporary adaptation by Kate E. Ryan. Directed by Alice Reagan and produced by Target Margin Theater (as part of its Hellenic Laboratory Series), this off-Broadway play will challenge your sensibilities. The unconventional twist that might leave a bitter lingering taste in some people’s mouths is the very reason the play is not enacted that often.

    The plot revolves around one central female, Deianira (played by Heidi Schreck) whose husband, Heracles, once shot a centaur who tried to rape her. When Heracles, the absentee father, leaves, the indigestible twist comes up as Deianira actually trusts the centaur to unite the couple through a magic potion.

    Deianira, as the desperate housewife and the well-known wife, is dressed in a leopard-print dress. Her air-headed chorus, played with brisk immaturity by Birgit Huppuch, Jodi Lin and Rebecca Lingafelter, are adorned with pink dresses, flower bracelets, and Diet Coke from plastic coolers.

    The play is adapted to modern, almost slang-like, speech and there are continual references to pop songs and computer paraphernalia, including computer games. As short as the production is (one hour), its cast is so incredibly upfront that the delivery of lines is both vigorous and drawing.

    Audience members will consider the simplicity of the characters. What if the characters border on being’ mind-bogglingly one-dimensional? In fact, Ryan’s portrayal of Heracles is frighteningly negative. Played by Todd d’Amour, Heracles, in the ending scene, when he discovers that the potion is really poison, comes off as a bad father, an incredible liar and adulterer with a disturbing passion for mutilating genitals. The point is that Greek tragedies are rarely about the emancipation of all characters. It is only the protagonist, in this case, Deianira, who has the fortune of getting an epiphany.

    To see Sophocles’ work enacted in such a light-hearted ensemble is an irony in itself.’ The idea of presenting it to an audience that might be snooty, or blissfully ignorant, and to recover a lost work with such appealing grace, makes it worth the effort.

    As for the one-dimensionality, all I have to say is that what is crucial here is that the end satisfies, even quenches, our thirst. ‘Women of Trachis’ leaves us with weighted questions, even as we exit the theater. A play that will stay with you past that hour – what more could you ask?

    ‘Women of Trachis’ is playing until Feb. 3 at the Ohio Theater in SoHo.

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