The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



NEWS (Etcetera)



Los Angeles






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp Review
The Cure at Troy
David Lohrey
Scruples are self-indulgence at this stage.
Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy is a poetic translation of Sophocles' tragedy Philoctetes, first performed in 409 B.C. Philoctetes, for those rusty on Greek mythology, is the most famous archer of the Trojan War. Hercules, before his death, had given his bow and arrows to Philoctetes. According to legend, Ulysses commanded that Philoctetes should be sent for because an oracle had declared that besieged Troy could only be taken with the arrows of Hercules. Philoctetes is persuaded to go to Troy, finally, where he kills Paris, and defeats the enemy armies.

In this version by the Nobel Prize winning Irish poet, the hero is marooned on a desert island, wounded, isolated, and uncooperative. Philoctetes, played to great effect here by Jolie Garrett, nurses his wounds, unwilling to return with Odysseus (Rainard Rachele), regardless of the consequences to Greece. Odysseus takes his son, Neoptolemus (Ian Oldaaker) along on the assumption that Philoctetes can be fooled into returning to Troy. If not, the backup plan is to trick him out of his bow and arrows, which alone can kill the enemy.

The Sophoclean hero quite properly is Philoctetes, but in this version, and as played here under the direction of Kevin Osborne, one can't help wondering if Neoptolemus is not the more interesting character, torn as he is by the stern orders of his father and the pleadings of the desperately hesitant Philoctetes. It is the young man who must choose. It is finally he who must take a stand. Part of the strength of the role no doubt is due to the player, Ian Oldaaker, who shows tremendous patience and proper deference to his father. His is a humble nobility, grand without arrogance. It is a very winning combination. Part of his success too is due to the utterly compelling performances of the two men pulling at him from both sides, tearing at his loyalties. He doesn't want to disappoint his father, nor can he bring himself to lie to the noble sufferer, Philoctetes. Mr. Garrett is the emotional one, filled with passion and angst, while Mr. Rachele plays pure reason, the voice of the state. Without making their cases so compellingly, we would not understand the young man's moral crisis.

The chorus, while well directed by Mr. Osborne, lacks the force and fury of their male counter parts. Sue Berch as the Chorus Leader is always clear, but seldom weighty. Karla Hendrick and Margot White fulfill their tasks with competence but somehow fail to add depth to their roles. Together they move gracefully, but step too cautiously, as though afraid to go where the play inevitably leads.

Set and lighting design by Roman Tatarowicz is more than competent. Especially well done and effective, was the sound design by Vivian Stoll and Nick Fritsch. Combined with Fang Yi Tseng's costumes, one felt transported back to a land where questions of moral integrity and courage were once considered worthy topics for a dramatist.

Written by Seamus Heaney.
Director: Kevin Osborne.

Cast: Jolie Garrett, Ian Oldaker, Karla Hendrick, Rainard Rachele, Sue Berch, Margot White.
Set & Lighting Design: Roman Tatarowicz.
Costume Design: Fang-Yi Tseng.
Sound Design: Nick Fritsch & Vivian Stoll.
Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission
The Studio Theatre, at Blue Heron Arts Center, 123 East 24th Street, New York, (212) 979-5000, ext.18.
1/31/2001 - 2/24/2002, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Mon at 8pm; Sun at 3pm.
Reviewed by David Lohrey based on performance of 2/03/02.
Order Tickets

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from