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Review: The Trojan War (Inconceivable Theatre)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat


Review: The Trojan War (Inconceivable Theatre)

The Trojan War

Written by Jessica Puller
Directed by Tony Dobrowolski
at Apollo Studio Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Aug 29  |  tickets: $12  |  more info

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Truth and Reconciliation — 3000 Years Late


Review: The Trojan War (Inconceivable Theatre)

Inconceivable Theatre presents


The Trojan War

Review by Lawrence Bommer

It was hardly the war to end all wars. (That can only be World War III…)  But the Trojan War lasted as long as our Iraq folly and makes as little sense then or now. In Jessica Puller’s new play it’s still being played out, with anachronistic embellishments because the principals—Helen of Troy (formerly “of Sparta”); Eris, the trickster goddess of discord; and Prince Paris of Troy, son of Priam, brother of Hector and abductor of Helen– have persisted for three millennia.

Review: The Trojan War (Inconceivable Theatre)
For 85 minutes the Inconceivable Theatre’s three haunted survivors play the blame game (“It’s YOUR fault!”) as they reprise the seemingly slight but ultimately irreversible steps toward the burning of Troy and the writing of “The Illiad,” “The Trojan Women,” and this particular play, the latest in a long line of post-war recaps.

Reduced to recriminations, Paris (Shawn-Michael Hall) argues that he only stole Helen from Menelaus because the gods gave him an apple “for the fairest” that he had no choice but to give to Aphrodite when she promised him the hand of the most beautiful woman in the world—oops, that implies responsibility and even guilt…

Helen (Stefanie Johnson) says it’s not her fault that fate made her irresistible—Eris should never have stirred up trouble in the first place by playing one Olympian god against another in order to discover “what fools these mortals be.” She never knew Menelaus had arranged that any insult to his marriage would be avenged by every Achaen king in the Aegean Sea.

Eris (Mary K. Nigohosian), who recalls the curse-wielding bad fairy in “Sleeping Beauty” or the “fairest of them all” witch in “Snow White, maintains that what she set in motion could have been thwarted any number of times before and during the war. If only the combatants had thought beyond their kneejerk sense of honor and reflexive craving for revenge. Indeed.

Review: The Trojan War (Inconceivable Theatre)
Review: The Trojan War (Inconceivable Theatre)

Review: The Trojan War (Inconceivable Theatre)
Review: The Trojan War (Inconceivable Theatre)

So the contentious trio reenact the causes and results of this precursor for pointless and endless conflict. By making these demi-gods and semi-mortals speak in slang as vernacular as an MTV special, Puller makes it feel non-negotiably relevant, a cautionary tale for our own ridiculous invasions.

Tony Dobrowolski’s sprightly staging keeps the quarrel fascinating, whether you know the ancient story or not. The cast are alternately charming, cutting, conciliatory—and finally resigned to the fact that it doesn’t matter who’s at fault. There’s no bringing back the dead and they’re the only ones from whom an ultimate accounting is required. The conclusion may be obvious but betting there is all the fun.

Case closed.


Rating: ★★★


Review: The Trojan War (Inconceivable Theatre)

Inconceivable Theatre’s The Trojan War; or How One Bad Apple Spoiled the World, continues through August 29th at the Apollo Studio Theatre, 2540 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Sundays at 7pm and Mondays at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door, online at, or by calling The Apollo Theater box office at 773-935-6100. More information at




Shawn-Michael Hall (Paris); Stefanie Johnsen (Helen); Mary K. Nagohosian (Eris); Sarah Radov (Aprodite); Lucy Carr, Cail Musick-Slater (understudies)

behind the scenes

Tony Dobrowolski (director); Raymond K. Cleveland (stage manager); Kelley Clausen (props, asst. stage manager); Patrick Murphy (managing director); Barbara H. Niederer (costumes); Chad Sheveland (sets, lighting); George Zahora (sound)


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