Sitting quietly at my laptop, I started researching background information for my upcoming review of And She Would Stand Like This on social media unbeknownst of the raging transgender debate seemingly stoked by comments made by the (formerly) beloved author of the Harry Potter books J K Rowling.
I eagerly anticipated attending this performance of And She Would Stand Like This, hoping that it would truly “inform” my notions of current transgender issues.
I wondered if, during the writing of And She Would Stand Like This, Harrison David River realised that in 2022 the world would be a very different place? Post COVID we are all very much aware of plagues and their impact on society worldwide. Would we be as sympathetic to the plight of Hecuba and her transgender children given our current life experiences? And can we appreciate the playwright’s adaption of Euripides’ Women of Troy and extrapolation of the documentary Paris is Burning?
There are too many complexities in the play for my liking, with the characterisations based on those from the saga Women of Troy that are difficult to follow especially if you are unfamiliar with this Greek tale.
Harrison David River’s characters are transformed from their Greek counterparts, but some stretch of the imagination is needed. For example, I surmised that Menelaus, King of Sparta, and the husband of Helen becomes Elena (female), the hospital’s administrator. Here, the high-heeled Elena is metamorphosed into the biological mother of Honesto (male) who has a secret identity as Helen.
The women of Troy are subjected to the savagery of men – their husbands, their husbands’ enemies, and the Gods. Hence, in the play Hecuba and her children are twice cursed – subjected to the prejudices of both (heterosexual) women and men, as evidenced in the confrontation between Hecuba and Elena and depicted as an insidious virus against which there is no cure.
The use of both the ancient Greek text and modern vernacular can feel discordant and an unnecessary theatrical device that served little purpose other than to link the play to its Greek derivations. The allusion to the documentary Paris is Burning is opaque and features only briefly in the opening scene – but it was fun.
The play is brought to the stage by The Antipodes Theatre Company and directed by Margot Tanjutco. The cast led by Kikki Temple (She/They) as the indomitable Hecuba, featured the talents of Miki Daely (She/Her), Surain Dhillon (He/Him), Guillaume Gentil (He/Him), Juan Gomez (They/Them), Andrea Mendez (They/She), Jaylen Nagloo (He/Him), Jalen Ong (He/They), Michelle Perera (She/Her), Peter Wood (He/Him) and Celina Yuen (She/They).
To continue the Greek thematic, Kikki Temple certainly brought ethos in her commanding role as Hecuba, and her supporting cast created pathos finding solace and safety only through their relationship with Hecuba as their house mother. With much gusto, they did a great job to bring what was a challenging play to the Melbourne stage as part of the Midsumma Festival.
So, despite my misgivings about the play, go and see it for yourself – make up your own mind – that’s what theatre is all about after all.
Venue: Meat Market Stables in North Melbourne:
Dates: 3 - 12 February 2022
Times: 7.30pm (3pm on Saturdays)
Duration: 90 minutes
Prices: Full Price $40.00, Concession $30.00, 3 Show Package for Midsumma Festival 10% off each ticket price
Bookings: Part of the Midsumma Festival, book here!
Fri 11 February, 7:30pm (Auslan interpreted) Sat 12 February, 3pm (Audio described/tactile tour)