Jeffrey Puukka

Only the dead have seen the end of war

A new company, Play On Words, puts on a dark and potent adaptation of Euripides' "Women of Troy"


Play On Words is a brand spanking new production company here in PDX, and as you know, we’re a theater-going town. Don’t let their newness put you off: down in the throes of The Boiler Room at Lincoln Performance Hall, they’re performing an edgy retelling of Euripides’ Women of Troy.

The stage is simple but effective, with a few light filters that pattern the floor, reminding us of the all-important Greek city wall, or broken shards of Greece’s famous pottery. It’s a desolate landscape, just as we can imagine Troy would have been before it burned. Our anxiety is high from the beginning scene, when current BBC-sounding news clips of war on the Gaza strip permeate the air. Three men in suits appear on stage. They are from the Coalition, a corporate city-state machine making plans to start a war in the Middle East. This is both millennia ago and today, with Odysseus, Agamemnon and Menelaus creating a publicity stunt (as Kardashian West would in our morning news) to get Helen back from Paris.

Danielle Pecoff (left) as Andromeda and Elizabeth Ware as Hecuba. Photo: Julie Marks

Danielle Pecoff (left) as Andromeda and Elizabeth Ware as Hecuba. Photo: Julie Marks

A little mythological brush-up: The gods had a contest to see who was the most beautiful of the goddesses. The winner would receive a golden apple, the apple of discord. Zeus, shrugging off his duties as usual, gave the apple to Paris to decide, and Paris awarded it to Aphrodite, who had bribed him with the promise of Helen – the beauty of the world, and  Menelaus’s wife – as his prize. Enter discord. The love affair of Paris and Helen motivated armies, the face that launched a thousand ships, as the saying goes, bringing on a 10-year war that ended with the king of Troy and all his male heirs murdered, the women raped or sold into slavery, and the city burnt to the ground. The fates and furies had a busy retail season that year.


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