Athena – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

The combat sport of fencing involves using your weapons to win points by contact with your opponent. First played in Spain between the 17th and 19th centuries, it is one of the initial sports to be played in the Olympics, while competitive fencing is a featured part of every modern Olympic games. Footwork and posture are essential rules, as opponents thrust and parry using the tip of their foil to score points against their competition. For an up close and personal lesson in the art of fencing, go directly to Thrown Stone Theatre Company’s intimate offering of “Athena” by Gracie Gardner for its New England premiere until August 6 in Ridgefield.

Two school chums, Athena (Shannon Helene Barnes) and Mary Wallace (Olivia Billings) find themselves thrust into the role of competitors as they practice with intensity for the Nationals, the Junior Olympics. Friends to a point, each teenager wants to win and they are willing to seize an advantage whenever one is presented. Each wildly different in background, the two grapple for the reward of the win, even if it means stretching the rules to achieve it. Both highly competitive, it is fascinating to watch them emerge from the layers of protective personalities, much like their protective clothing they wear.

Athena, by assuming the name of a mythological goddess, asks probing questions, allowing each seventeen year old to reveal their deepest fears and passions, their likes and dislikes, their stresses and successes. Their defensive and offensive moves are a physical choreography that is orchestrated to hold the audience’s strict attention.

For tickets ($49-59), call Stone Thrown Theatre, at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, 440 Main Street, Ridgefield at 203-442-1714 or online at Performances are Saturday, July 23 at 8 p.m., Sunday, July 24 at 2 p.m., Friday, July 29 at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 30 at 2 p.m., Friday, August 5 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, August 6 at 2 p.m. This play will be in repertory with “Hysterical!” by Elenna Stauffer. Both are directed by Tracy Brigden. Show proof of vaccination and ID and wear a mask.

Watch these two intense competitor/friends polish their craft with an intriguing exchange of swords and words.