Te Whare Tapere Iti, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato, Knighton Road, Hamilton

31/05/2017 - 03/06/2017

Production Details

Part contemporary drama, part homage to Euripides’ Trojan Women, Trojan Barbie recasts the legendary fall of Troy against the vivid reality of modern warfare. It is poetic, compassionate, and tinged with great warmth and humour.

“Playwright Christine Evans melds contemporary art and culture with an ancient, mythical war. Trojan Barbie is … an imaginative, time-warped view of the ongoing challenges women have faced since foreign conflict first raged thousands of years ago.” – ‘Talkin Broadway’

Te Whare Tapere Iti, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato, Knighton Road.
31 May, 1, 2, 3, June (Wednesday to Saturday) at7pm
$10/$12 – cash sales at door
Bookings:  or 8384922 

Cast, in order of appearance:
Georgia Pollock: Lotte Jones, an English tourist and doll repair expert
Kelsey Becht: Polly X, Hecuba's youngest daughter*
Sherrie Roue-Walker: Polly X, Hecuba's youngest daughter*
Caleb Coffey: Jorge, soldier from the conquering army
Jono Freebairn: Max, soldier from the conquering army
Hannah Grant: Hecuba, Queen of Trojans; widow of Priam
Chelsea Graham: Esme, woman in the camp/chorus
Jamie Braithwaite: Clea, woman in the camp/chorus
Lisa Sandford: Zoe, woman in the camp/chorus
Lily Empson: Cassandra, Hecuba's prescient daughter
Nick Hall: Mica, camp guard, also assigned to local spin
Dyani Morgan: Helen, 'the face that launched a thousand ships'
Andrew Lyall: Talthybius, a diplomat; messenger for the conquering army
Tycho Smith: Clive, Lotte's fantasy partner; actually a waiter
Rhiannon Sheridan: Andromache, Hecuba's daughter-in-law; Hector's widow
Tycho Smith: Menelaus, Helen's slighted husband; led the army that destroyed Troy
Tycho Smith: Officer in Blue, Deus ex machina from the conquering army

*The role of Polly X will be played by Sherrie Roue-Walker on 31st May and 2nd June and by Kelsey Becht on 1st and 3rd June.

Direction: Gaye Poole
Production management: Gaye Poole
Stage management: Missy Mooney
Lighting design & operation: Alec Forbes
Costumes: Cherie Cooke
Sound operation: Jonathan Wilce
Music & sound effects: Kelsey Becht
Graphic Design: Vincent Owen
Videography: Luke Jacobs
Stills photography: Michael Smith
Venue advice: Brad Thomson
Administrative assistance: Alison Southey
Production assistance: Lily Empson
Set team: Andrew Lyall, Jono Freebairn, Hannah Grant, Tycho Smith
Wardrobe team: Georgia Pollock, Chelsea Graham, Jamie Braithwaite
Props team: Dyani Morgan, Nick Hall, Lisa Sandford
Marketing team: Rhiannon Sheridan, Caleb Coffey, Sherrie Roue-Walker

Front of House volunteers: Megan Goldsman, Liam Hinton, Calum Hughes, Conor Maxwell, Bree Swales 

Theatre ,

Superb theatre

Review by Sam Edwards 02nd Jun 2017

A challenging shift of venue from the usual Playhouse Theatre to the smaller Te Whare Tapere Iti made Wednesday night’s performance an intimate and revealing affair. Intimate in that the audience was close enough to the actors to feel part of the play, revealing in that the proximity made it impossible for the audience not to feel the emotional intensity generated by the players.

Two of them in particular had memorable performances. [More


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A present pictured from “the broken fragments of antique legends”

Review by Ross MacLeod 01st Jun 2017

Some of the surreal absurdity of the Trojan War lies not merely in the fact that mankind continues to engage in such barbaric conflicts some three thousand years later but that many of those conflicts still occur in roughly the same area. If the modern troubles of the Middle East seem too much of a geographical stretch for this claim, consider that several Gallipoli Invasion landing points were only a few kilometres from the ruins of ancient Troy. 

Trojan Barbie is at its best when it neatly draws the parallels between the atrocities of the mythic war and the modern ones. It’s at its lowest when it tries a little too hard to layer on too many coats of metaphor. 

The play shifts between a modern retelling of Euripides’ The Trojan Women, a historical echo of the myth and a pseudo time travel tale. For me the script undercuts itself by never quite settling on a style. This deconstruction is probably the playwright’s intention but it leaves me feeling a little unsure as a viewer.

The core plot element, a refugee camp of women from a conquered kingdom, is what truly resonates: Bronze Age barbarism given a veneer of modern civility that only serves to highlight the dark cracks, not disguise them. The women watch, wait and wail as each new indignity and inhumanity is weighed upon them, still as pertinent now as millennia ago.

The other modern addition is less smoothly joined: a Western woman on tour of Anatolia caught up in the hostility. This does serve thematic perspectives: comparing entitlement, exploring the nightmarish trap of being caught beyond communication, and both playing straight and then subverting the idea that we only care about such humanitarian crises when Westerners get involved. But Lotte Jones (Georgia Pollock), the tourist, feels separate from the other story rather than part of it and the doll metaphors (she works in a doll hospital) feel like one layer too many on an already overly layered piece.

Pollock does well with the detached, benevolently entitled Lotte, making her both likeable and identifiable. There’s some nice character work as her predicament becomes worse but the script undercuts potential character development past a point, which is a shame. 

The women of the camp are the most similar to their source material, a Greek chorus, with dialogue often paraphrasing ancient lines. As such they are more of an emotive force than a naturalistic one, and they certainly work well together getting the loss and despair across.

Lily Empson as Cassandra delights in her character’s madness, unabashedly energetic but with glimpses of sadness beneath the insanity. Sherrie Roue-Walker as Polly X gives the most relatable character in the play: a creative, naive and slightly spoilt teenage girl who dreams of being an artist and is bitter that her life and her city have been destroyed. She’s the most naturalistic of the female characters and Roue-Walker makes her at once obnoxious and sympathetic.

As the more naturalistic characters, many of the males are a little more recognizable than their female counterparts. Two soldiers escorting Polly to her fate are as believable as they are unlikable, though they only get a little character development. Andrew Lyall as Taithybius gives a strong performance that contrasts reasonable and eloquent language with utter heartlessness.  

Nick Hall is Mica, a camp guard, really makes the most of this character, the most multifaceted in the play. Mica is a weary soldier, an idealist worn down by years of war, desensitized to the horrors around him. While all the soldiers embody the banality of evil, Hall in many ways presents the most chilling side, that of a good man committing atrocities simply because that’s his job.

The rough set of scaffold and canvas evokes a refugee camp well and a sound-scape fills in the rest, the unseen sounds offstage letting us fill in the scale of horrors.

Trojan Barbie is a clever play with solid performances. Perhaps it’s just a personal preference for naturalism but I can’t help but feel it would have been more effective as a straighter retelling of The Trojan Women in a modern setting, rather than the somewhat stilted time-warping piece it is. But there are more than enough relatable parts to engage and challenge the audience with a harsh take on contemporary brutality.

To quote Mark Twain: “History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of the pictured present often seem to be constructed out of the broken fragments of antique legends.” 


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