Time Out New York

Fringe Binge: Mourn the Living Hector

By David Fear

August 17, 2008

☆☆☆☆ (four stars) + TONY Critics Pick

Paul Cohen's evocative look at what tolls these tides of war take reimagines the greatest Trojan hero (Jeff Clarke) as a haunted veteran, left to wander the streets anonymously and hang out in limbo-like Laundromats during a two-week leave from the front. Parades and poetic tributes are absent for Hector upon his temporary return; what he finds instead are peasants weary of constant battle and a young woman (Rebecca Lingafelter) whose offers of tenderness can't cure his PTSD. All your old tragic favorites are duly trotted out: Hecuba (Birgit Huppuch), recast as a nagging evangelical nutcase; a perpetually in-heat Helen (Rachel Jablin); and Hector's wife, Andromache (Lingafelter again), who seems to be the only one aware of what fate has in store. Just in case we don't immediately draw the parallels between one fallen republic's ancient campaigns and another in-crisis empire's contemporary ones, codirectors Shira Milikowsky and Julie Rossman clothe Hector in modern desert fatigues and have David Skeist's obnoxious (and, regrettably, one-note) businessman chattering away about those damned Greeks on his cell phone. Cohen's writing has a tendency to trot into Mametesque territory at odd moments, but credit the cast (notably Clarke and Lingafelter, whose scenes together are devastating) for turning the playwright's historical allegory into something that consistently cuts to the bone.