It's All Greek To Me...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have an amazing and diverse group of friends who are out there pursuing their dreams in fascinating and exciting ways. Today, I was able to celebrate an accomplishment of one such friend, the aspiring playwright Jessica, with whom I went to high school, when I took Justin to see a production of one of her plays, The Trojan War: Or How One Bad Apple Spoiled The Whole World. Having one's play produced is no small feat, one that many would-be authors never attain. It implies years of persistence and belief in her own talent, and for that, I must congratulate her. 

The Trojan War presents a Sartre-esque scenario in which the major players in the Trojan War -- Paris, Helen, Aphrodite, and Eris, the goddess of conflict and discord -- have been trapped in a sort of cosmic purgatory for three thousand years as they cast blame upon each other for causing the conflict in question. They become aware of the audience, dismantling the fourth wall almost immediately, and decide to present a detailed accounting of the events leading up to and during the Trojan War so that the audience can make their own judgments about who was really at fault. As they delve deeper and deeper into the story, it becomes clear that no one person or celestial being is solely responsible, and that any and all of them had the potential to stop the chain of events that caused so many innocent people their lives and none of them did. What results is an anti-war statement that admonishes the audience to think carefully about the potential implications of our own actions.

The play was staged by the Inconceivable Theater Company, a local troupe renting the studio space at the Apollo Theater, whose main stage is home to the perennially popular (though I've still not seen it) Million Dollar Quartet. Although the space was small, I thought their staging was effective, and they actually had relatively good fortune with regard to the timing of the El passing by. When I saw the theater was basically underneath the tracks, I wondered how well sound-insulated it was, and it quickly became apparent that it wasn't at all.  However, the El seemed to pass by mostly at dramatically appropriate moments, when its sound underscored the action of the story. Justin noted that for him, it channeled the sound of Zeus throwing lightning bolts from Mount Olympus.

Jessica's words were brought to life by a largely talented group of actors. At times, I thought they hammed things up a bit too much, and that the writing would have been more effective if they had let it stand on its own to a greater degree. Then again, I thought Jessica's attempts to make the Trojan War more relevant to a contemporary audience by peppering the story with a series of modern-day references and jokes was somewhat forced; I think the historical material would have been more cohesive if allowed to stand on its own. Then again, I have more of a historical background and interest in history than most people...

I'm not sure The Trojan War will become a classic of American theater, but I am proud of Jessica, and I can't even imagine how exciting it must be for her to see her work fully-realized and performed live on stage. I'm eager to see where she draws inspiration from for her next work, and I wish her future success in her burgeoning career as a playwright.

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