note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Carl A. Rossi
Philoctetes … Craig Wesley Divino (’09)
Neoptolemus … Nate Dendy (’09)
Odysseus … Scott Raker (’08)
Chorus … Jesse Geiger (’09)
Chorus … Joe Short (’09)
Chorus … Adam Suritz (’09)
To discuss Brown/Trinity Rep’s production of THE CURE OF TROY, adapted by Seamus Heaney from Sophocles’ tragedy, is to attempt to answer a two-fold question: how should classical drama be staged, today (i.e. ritual vs. contemporary) and how does one evaluate student actors still learning their craft? First, Mr. Heaney has faithfully adapted the tale of the Greek archer Philoctetes, abandoned by his cronies upon a forsaken island but whose bow and arrows are now required to help defeat Troy, and he keeps the traditional Chorus, declamation and mythical setting --- director Donya K. Washington and her designers are doubly faithful, in turn, with their tableaus, crumbling marble and togas (though whenever a character squats on his haunches, the audience gets glimpses more in keeping with Aristophanes than Sophocles). Second, the sextet of actors divides evenly in terms of performance: Nate Dendy (Neoptolemus), Scott Raker (Odysseus) and Joe Short (Chorus) have the makings of a solid classical style (one can picture them performing with masks and cothurni); Craig Wesley Divino (Philoctetes), Jesse Geiger (Chorus) and Adam Suritz (Chorus) are more modern in sound and temperament --- Mr. Divino's over-eagerness to make Philoctetes loveable, backed by a dazzling smile, reminds me of commentary towards John Barrymore’s Hamlet: “It was the work of an attractive, earnest and intelligent comedian.” But college dramatics are, first and foremost, training grounds; where else can tomorrow’s artists take chances, test the tools that Nature has given them and to simply find themselves? Thus, these comments must not be taken as out-and-out criticism, especially when all involved are giving their best at this stage in their lives; the program notes declare that Ms. Washington and company “will make a significant contribution to the American theater” --- should this prediction turn these young people’s heads, may it be back in the proper direction: to their work, their craft, and their ever-continuing evolution.
Season’s Greetings, followed by the 2007 Addison Awards.