By Jeffrey Bouthiette & Rebekah Walendzak
Directed by Jeffrey Bouthiette
Produced by Bare Boned Theater
At Raven Theatre’s West Stage
Depiction of both Greek tragedy and modern war tragedy an artistic success but a depressing evening of theatre
What Jeffrey Bouthiette and Rebekah Walendzak, creators of The Hecubae now at Raven Theatre’s West stage, failed to realize was that despite all the hard work and unique staging including improve, several songs and classic presentations–that their story was such a “downer” that audiences left the show depressed and worn out. The sheer negativity and hopelessness of this show was overwhelming. Add the slow pacing and The Hecubae becomes a long tedious evening. The show answers (over and over again) the question: “What remains after war?”
The Hecubae tells the timeless story of woman paying for the transgressions of men. The story bounces back and forth from Greek tragedy depicting the women of Troy after their defeat by the Greeks to modern refugee camps–so we get a double douse of brutality, murder, rape, enslavement and personal abuse. This play just seems to pile on the horror as it renders the seven women as near helpless victims resigned to their fate. Only queen Hecubae plots revenge against one of her abusers. Most of this work has the cast in a traumatic morass moving about like a group of zombies.
I kept waiting for a glimmer of hope or a reason for the women to keep struggling but I only got one horror after another until the show mercifully ended with a whimper. I question the artistic merit (besides the actors demonstrating their craft) of piling on one horrible event after another without rendering a resolution or a call to action or something. We get that they suffered but what will they do besides singing a haunting song and hugging each other? Surly the purpose of this play was to do more than parallel the ancient and contemporary evils of war on women?
There needs to be more than terrific staging, nice acting and innovative theatricality to make a show impact on audiences. The lack of resolution and hopelessness defeats this show. Maybe if this show as trimmed by 20 minutes and faster paced was employed, it might work but as it now plays, I can’t find a reason to recommend it.
At Raven Theatre, 6147N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL