Yesterday (Sunday Jan 29) I attended the matinee performance of The Trojan Women, which was followed by a Talkback. I saw the show on opening night with Sochi Fried playing Cassandra; she had to leave for another gig, so the role was taken over by Suzette McCanny, whose first performance was January 28! Suzette’s spot in the Chorus is now filled by Carys Lewis. I love to see a show more than once during the run, as it grows and changes. Plus, you get to notice new stuff that you didn’t catch the first time, and re-live favourite moments. Nicole St. Martin as Andromache – still absolutely heartbreaking. Scott Moore as Menelaus seemed to exhibit more humanity under the bluster. Andrew P. MacMaster as Talthybius showed even more clearly his reluctance to deliver the Greeks’ unpopular messages . Molly Thom was glorious as Hecuba – her anguished yet furious delivery of the line “…the glorious Greeks were afraid of a child!” was chilling. And I can’t stop humming a bit of the song that’s repeated several times throughout the show: “Sing for the great city, that falls like a shadow on the threshold of Nowhere”.
Yesterday’s Talkback was hosted by co-producer Tabitha Keast, and audience questions were answered by the cast and director Alexandra Seay. Here’s a sampling.
Q: How do you play the tricky blend of Greek poetry and modern camp in Gwendolyn MacEwen’s adaptation?
A (actor Molly Thom – Hecuba): I play it like it’s today. I go into the poetry, but phrases like “Go to hell, Talthybius” grounds it in reality. The same war goes on – the issues are alive today.
A (director Alexandra Seay): The text was challenging – we had to make sure it would “read” to a contemporary audience.
Q: I loved the Chorus work, yet they’re all individuals. Visually and audibly a feast!
A (actor Anne Shepherd – Chorus): It was a very interesting experience. I’m a psychiatrist in real life, and saw this play as a true depiction of how people deal with grief and mourning. It’s not a one-time experience; stress comes in bursts and flashes when you least expect it.
Q: The Chorus seemed to come in under Molly [Hecuba], sometimes echoing, sometimes underscoring – the rhythm was lovely.
A (Alexandra Seay): Music director Lily Ling worked with the Chorus in rehearsal to ensure that there was individuality, and they didn’t all speak with one voice.
Q: The costuming was marvelous, particularly the Chorus. What was the symbolism behind them removing their head coverings when they were ready to go with the Greeks?
A (Alexandra Seay): It was important for the women of the Chorus to appear alike until they moment when they choose to leave under their own steam. Then they let go of their comfort – the concealing robes. Worked with costume designer Peter DeFreitas to solidify these details.
Q: How and why the double-casting of Cassandra?
A (co-producer Tabitha Keast): The why is that Sochi Fried had another gig (which Alexandra knew about from the outset).
A (actor Suzette McCanny – Chorus/second Cassandra): You know, it was harder to rehearse the Chorus! Carys Lewis took over my spot. For Cassandra, Sochi and I would alternate the role in rehearsals. Yesterday was my first show as Cassandra, and it felt a bit like wearing someone else’s boot, but now it’s fine!
Q: Was there lots of improvisation in rehearsals, or did you go in knowing how it would look?
A (Alexandra Seay): I knew it had to start with the Chorus as rocks [Bloggergal’s note: the moment when they start humming and come to life raised goosebumps!] and had to end with a line [the Chorus and Hecuba form a line on the sand dune and file off]. Everything else was worked out in rehearsal.
If you haven’t yet seen this fabulous show, this is the final week – it closes February 4! Performances at 8pm Wed – Sat. Tickets are 2-for-1 on Wednesday; $20 for the other days. Day-of show discounts available for the regular-price nights at the T.O. Tix booth in Yonge-Dundas Square or online at http://www.ticketweb.ca/snl/Search.action?query=Alumnae+Trojan. Book now! firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-364-4170 box 1.