Greek first for Wheathampstead Dramatic Society

PUBLISHED: 21:34 17 October 2012 | UPDATED: 11:57 18 October 2012

Steve Leadbetter as Menelaus, King of Sparta; Irene Morris as Helen, Queen of Sparta, and Julie O'Shea as Egyptian princess Theonoe in Wheathampstead Dramatic Society's production of Helen

Steve Leadbetter as Menelaus, King of Sparta; Irene Morris as Helen, Queen of Sparta, and Julie O'Shea as Egyptian princess Theonoe in Wheathampstead Dramatic Society's production of Helen

Archant

IN the 60 plus years of its existence, Wheathampstead Dramatic Society has tackled all sorts of plays from Moliere to Arthur Miller, Alan Ayckbourn to Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde to Tennessee Williams.

Irene Morris as  Helen, Queen of Sparta, Robin Langer as King of Egypt and Peter Phillips as am Egyptian sailorIrene Morris as Helen, Queen of Sparta, Robin Langer as King of Egypt and Peter Phillips as am Egyptian sailor

It has never, however, tried Greek drama – until now. From tomorrow (Thursday) to Saturday, October 20, the amateur group will be performing Euripides’ Helen at The Memorial Hall in Marford Road.

This will be a new version of the classic tale by award-winning Irish playwright Frank McGuiness, which was premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2009.

Everybody knows the story of Helen of Troy, but Euripides turns it on its head with the claim that Helen never went to Troy at all but was whisked off to Egypt under the orders of a jealous goddess while a doppelganger went with Paris in her place.

The play starts 17 years later when Helen’s husband, King Menelaus, is shipwrecked off the Egyptian shore and then comes face to face with the woman who he thought he has brought back from the war and had just deposited in a nearby cave.

Irene Morris, Robin Langer and Pip Dowdell, who plays the gatekeeper at the King's palaceIrene Morris, Robin Langer and Pip Dowdell, who plays the gatekeeper at the King's palace

“The first thing to make clear is that this not a tragedy, which is what people might expect when they see the name Euripides,” said Malcolm Hobbs, the play’s director.

“There’s no wailing chorus and nobody dies – offstage or on! In fact, Helen is usually described as a romantic comedy.

“There are certainly more laughs than you might expect to find in a Greek drama as the cast and I have been discovering in rehearsals.

“Neither will they be wandering about in white sheets or little tunics. We’ve gone for a more contemporary look more in fitting with this new version – Menelaus has just returned from a war that has proved to be totally pointless for instance, so I’m sure audiences can find 21st century resonances in that if they want to.”

Tickets cost £8 and are available in advance from the Manor Pharmacy, or on 07943 903016 or online at www.wheathampsteaddramaticsociety.co.uk

Performances are at 8pm.

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