New take on Euripedes’ Helen for Wheathampstead Dramatic Society

PUBLISHED: 15:51 11 October 2012

photo 9362; Irene Morris; Robin Langer;Peter Phillips - Egyptian sailor

photo 9362; Irene Morris; Robin Langer;Peter Phillips - Egyptian sailor


TACKLING Greek drama with a performance of Helen by Euripedes marks a first for Wheathampstead Dramatic Society (WDS) next week.

In the 60-plus years of its existence, WDS has tackled all sorts of plays from Moliere to Arthur Miller, Ayckbourn to Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde to Tennessee Williams.

Until now, it has never tried Greek Drama but from next Thursday, October 18, to Saturday, October 20, WDS will be performing a new version of Helen by the award-winning Irish playwright Frank McGuiness, which was premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2009.

Euripides turns the story of Helen on its head with the claim that she never went to Troy at all but was whisked off to Egypt under the orders of a jealous goddess whilst 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 whom he thought he had brought back from the war and had just deposited in a nearby cave.

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

“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.”

Helen is being performed at 8pm in the Memorial Hall in Marford Road, Wheathampstead, and tickets are £8 in advance from Manor Pharmacy in the village, by calling 07943 903016 or online at

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