The University of Southern Miss Theatre Program kicked off their season with a big bang. In a twist of Euripides’s Trojan Women, “Trojan Barbie” by Christine Evans is placed between modern and ancient war zones and tells of a clash between Trojan women and Modern Woman of War. Each actor steps in the shoes of such complex and troubled characters that are seemingly played with ease. The play opens with Lotte (Emily Cameron), a shy and reclusive British woman who spends her day repairing dolls. Lotte is kidnapped when she books a singles vacation entitle “Tragedy in Troy.” She is the manifestation of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Though Fate would have it, she collides with the women of Troy, Hecuba (Lauren Gunn), Cassandra (Lorena Cohea) and Helen of Troy (Mel Angelo). Hecuba’s youngest daughter, Polly X (Christin Prince), never meets Lotte but is a definitely not a character to be forgotten. Polly X is a petite character who is combated with a sassy yet innocent personality. She is one who gives life to the play from the beginning of the play to her bitter end.
Hecuba is seen as a woman who struggles with the horrors of the reality happening around them. Lauren Gunn conveys her sorrows of the loss of her husband and two daughters. She gives speeches to the audience in sentimental ways without ever breaking the fourth wall.
The play parallels the multiple layers of realism and references classic literature and real life events. So much so, that while sitting in the audience one may feel a sense of uncomfortableness of how easy it is forget about world devastation because it does not directly impact us.
“Many of us have the privilege to turn off the television, close the newspaper and remove ourselves from the blood and carnage we see in the media. But what if we couldn’t? What would it take for us to pay attention and move to action?
Lotte’s character also mentions this to the audience saying that “ The media only focused on me. I’d only gotten captured and rescued. No one asked about the poor women in that camp.”
The realness of loss in war and devastation is almost haunting to watch. Though the play focuses on the women of war, it gave a slight look into how soldiers’ sense of duty clashes with his moral compass. Jeorge (Matthew Boese) and Max (Detalion Dixon) are given orders are escort Polly X, but neither realize that they are in for the ride of their lives. Matthew Boese’s rendition of Jeorge shows his hesitation of his duty as a soldier and his affectionate feelings for Polly X. Meanwhile Detalion Dixon displays an emotional yet powerful performance as Max, he cracks under the solitude of military life.
Director Monica Hayes says that the cast and crew worked tirelessly for weeks before the show actually opened. The crews from lighting, set design, sound and actors came together and pulled off a masterpiece that is to be enjoyed from beginning to end. Director Hayes brings her own twist of tragedy and dark humor with a sprinkle of love and a lot of lost to the story that is leaves the audience wanting to see more. From epic lighting props to haunting music, “Trojan Barbie” will definitely go down in the books as one of the best plays in USM theatre history. 10/10 would recommend watching again.
“Trojan Barbie” will be open October 5 – 7 at Hardwig Theatre on the USM Campus. The will begin promptly at 7:30 p.m. General public tickets are on sale for $14, for faculty, staff seniors and military $10, and for students the cost is $8. For more information, contact to Southern Miss ticket box at 800-844-TICK.