Powerful theater as New York ballroom culture meets Greek tragedy

A Greek Chorus turns into an impertinent trio of queer gender rebels (Mikki Daely, Guillaume Gentil, Peter Wood). Their movement and song may not fully capture the provocative vitality of the Ball subculture, but they deliver scathing commentary and moving monologues, recounting the rejection by the families they were born into and their welcome into the new family they have chosen.

And the dialogue remains remarkably faithful to the original text, as first the cursed prophetess Cassandra (Celina Yuen), then Andromache (Andrea Mendez), whose son is cruelly doomed, appear.

But it is with the arrival of Helen (Juan Gomez) and their mother Elena (Michelle Perera) that the drama takes on its full extent. Rivers retains Euripides’ depiction of Helen as a victim – a closeted, handsome queer boy, raped by Paris before falling in love with him.

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Pity hits you, but awe and better acting emerge through intensified exchanges between Hecuba and Elena.

The two knew each other in a past life, when Hecuba was Derek, and their compelling and utterly brutal dialogue turns into a clash of love, grief, passion, and prejudice (the conflict is inflected by Hecuba’s misogyny d on the one hand, and Elena’s transphobia on the other) which sees ancient tragedy struck anew.

Margot Tanjutco’s production has its weak points, but much can be forgiven for such powerful and moving theatrical moments as these.

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