Trojan Barbie

Tue 26th – Sat 30th January 2016

reviews

Maddy Searle

at 23:03 on 26th Jan 2016

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Trojan Barbie by Christine Evans is a poetic and unflinching exploration of the consequences of war. Through the eyes of the women of Troy, we see the desolation, grief and hate that conflict inevitably brings. In the ADC’s production, this horror is portrayed by the actors with compassion and intimacy, allowing the audience into the lives of the female refugees.

From the start, the parallels with the war in Syria are plain to see: corrugated iron, canvas sheets and wire fencing are the backbone of the set. The stage is also littered with the dismembered corpses of Barbie dolls, a macabre reminder of the human cost of war. A flickering projection of bombing, along with Syrian women, children and soldiers, so familiar to us from the news, brings us instantly into the world the play creates.

Throughout the production, the performances from the female actors are mesmerising. Hecuba, played by Bethan Davidson, has the calm authority of a former queen, but her despair over the death of her children permeates every movement and every word. The elfin Emma Corrin masterfully (or mistress-fully?) portrays Cassandra’s prophetic insight, inner torment and playful intelligence. Alice Carlill also gives an impressive performance as Polly X, whose childish enthusiasm cannot disguise her understanding of loss. Helen of Troy is played by Rebecca Thomas, who gives her character a Hollywood glamour as well as demonstrating Helen’s talent for manipulation.

The male actors in Trojan Barbie are also skilled story-tellers, allowing us to understand the complexity of the less sympathetic male characters. Harrison MacNeil’s monologue, which explores the mind of the general Mica, shows a softer side to the aggressive solider, who yearns for a home that no longer exists. Ben Martineau and Ronald Prokes, playing Jorge and Max, also show the conflicting traits of conquering warriors, one having empathy for the refugees in his charge, the other simply seeking pleasure amid the wreckage.

The full spectrum of characters we meet in the Trojan camp make the story of refugees and soldiers so much more real than the fleeting images on the news. From our comfortable distance, it is hard to comprehend the full extent of the terror and heartache that refugees experience. This is reflected in the character of Lottie, a tourist who finds herself trapped in the heart of the camp. Her well-meaning but useless words of comfort mean nothing to the women who have lost everything. Lucy Dickson brilliantly conveys Lotte’s self-indulgence and ignorance, which is slowly scraped away by the violence she experiences. Lotte is a reflection of us, the audience, as our own prejudices are challenged by what we see.

Overall, this production of Trojan Barbie is thoughtful, well-crafted and very timely. It provides us with a truly valuable insight into the Syrian conflict, from the perspective of the people who are so often forgotten in wartime: the women.

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