The San Francisco Tribune
The San Francisco Tribune



Helen at Theatre of Yugen is Captivating


Dealing with timeless issues like the meaning of being a woman and the problems of navigating today’s powerful and confusing social and political currents all keep the audience focused throughout the intermission-less performance.


Director Shannon R. Davis does an outstanding creative endeavor with the five-person cast and a single, small but effective stage setting, a hotel bedroom in Egypt. This is where Helen has been sequestered for 17 years as she continues to believe her husband, Menelaus, will rescue her from her mundane routine. If you have only vague, semi-historical notions about Helen of Troy’s legend as recorded in much ancient Greek literature, for a deeper examination this more complex Helen is an excellent introduction, aided by McLaughlin’s rewrite of Euripides’ original play.


Helen's (Adrian Deane) large role is ably assisted by her interactions with several visitors. One at a time, Helen shares the stage with Athena (Stefani Potter), the lively, action-oriented goddess of war and strategy, Io (Helen Wu), who Zeus had turned into a cow (ears are the only thing that remains in her exquisite costume) and was sent to wander the earth, plagued by a gadfly that Hera had cursed her with.Servant (Leticia Duarte), summarizes and comments on the proceedings, to reinforce what the audience has seen. And finally, by the lone male in this version, a war-weary Menelaus (Steven Flores), her long-lost husband who she’s been waiting all these years for his return. Each visitor exemplifies some of the ways in which women behave in stress-filled situations.


Greek gods functioning in a modern setting makes for a thoughtful evening of theater, giving the audience an opportunity to consider the overarching question of the female role in today's society.  As the play ends, much has been discussed and explored, but no simple solutions to the age-old dilemmas are forthcoming. The quest for solutions remains timeless, like the real Helen in this most engrossing play.


Helenis a must see, running now through April 27 at Theatre of Yugen: NOHspace - 2840 Mariposa St, San Francisco CA 94110.

Tickets: $15-$40. (415) 621-0507 |


By Ellen Levin for SF Tribune

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