Mourn the Living Hector (CSV) – Paul Cohen's mashup of the Trojan War and the plight of veterans today – establishes its grip immediately with two potent scenes. The explosive opening only begins to explain why Mike (Jeff Clarke, who doubles as Hector), a Marine returned presumably from the Middle East, has woken up in a bed soaked with blood. The play then cuts to a somber discussion between Hector and his lieutenant Polydamus (David Skeist), whose ominous reflections are punctuated by a persistent cough.
Performance Lab 115's young cast brings Cohen's enigmatic, witty, and emotionally charged script beautifully to life. Birgit Huppuch gives a riveting performance as Hecuba, scary in her self-control, while the closing, doom-haunted dialogue between Clarke and Rebecca Lingafelter as Andromache achieves a somber poetry. The contemporary plot feels at times a little forced, one of the risks of competing against Homer. But this fine production, like the best works of Charles Mee, demonstrates the continuing relevance of ancient stories to our own contemporary tragedies.