There are times in the theatre when you feel utterly moved by a play. When the action before you reduces you to tears and leaves you with a feeling of sorrow.
Marina Carr’s aim in her re-imagining of this ancient story is to leave the audience feeling heartbroken and I certainly felt that way by the end.
In her version of Hecuba, the widowed Trojan queen dealing with the aftermath of war is not the brutal, violent woman portrayed in the original story by Euripides but instead a strong-willed, dignified (and terrified) woman who will do anything to save her children.
The storytelling style in which the actors partly narrate their thoughts and emotions as well as interact with each other is an ingenious way in which to convey the horrors of war and how the characters deal with it.
By purely acting the part of Hecuba, it may have been more difficult to visualise the horror witnessed by the queen (superbly played by Derbhile Crotty).
But here I hang on to her every word as she reveals the brutality, the gore and the graphic detail of war in the opening scene of the play.
Sitting on her dead husband’s throne she describes how the bloody limbs and body parts of her sons lie around her.
She tells us she is holding her husband’s head in her hands, his body nowhere to be found and she is unable to close his eyes which show the horror of his death.
None of this we can actually see – the almost naked set and vivid narration allows us to just imagine it.
Hecuba later depicts how she apologetically scrambles her way over children’s bodies in an attempt to find her last remaining son.
And we witness the shocking moment when the sacrifice of her daughter Polyxena turns into a long painful death as the executor hacks away at her body.
“I wish you had never been born” Hecuba tells her, apologising to her as she is led to her death.
The hatred and sexual tension between Hecuba and the Achaean Agamemnon (the wonderful Ray Fearon) is excellently portrayed.
As Hecuba realises her fate, who can forgive her for enjoying a tiny moment of relief and pleasure as the enemy soldier peels her wailing body off the sand and leads her to his tent.
In an era where thousands are fleeing war, this play couldn’t be more poignant and timely.
Running time one hour and 50 minutes with no interval. Runs until October 17.