An Iliad is just what the title suggests, a re-telling of Homer’s Iliad by an unnamed storyteller. Perhaps this show would be entertaining to individuals who are fully versed in the story and are a student of ancient Greek mythology and Homer’s Iliad, but otherwise I would recommend staying away. The show was performed in a 100 minute one act play…or rather a long 100 minutes. The storyteller is a poet who has spent years re-telling the story of the Iliad and has grown weary of re-telling the story. But here he goes again starting off in what I presume is the original ancient Greek text, before returning to English. From there we dive into the story of Achilles and Hector at the Battle of Troy. Throughout the performance our storyteller provides modern analogies as to what is going on before inhabiting the various characters of the Iliad to tell the story. Unfortunately, he never truly transformed into the different characters on stage. Rather, it was always the storyteller acting as Achilles, Hector, etc. This failure reminded me of the recent performance of Thomas Keegan in “Dying City” at Signature Theatre, who successfully inhabited two characters. Mr. Keegan would simply walk on stage and before the character spoke a word you knew which of the two characters he was portraying just by the way he was carrying himself.
I can’t fully blame the actor as the script itself is tedious. Without trying to belabor the point, which the show didn’t seem able to do, the storyteller is lamenting the loss of life in the Iliad and begins to list what seemed like every war between the time of Troy through the current conflict in Syria. While this may have taken 3 minutes on stage when you are over 80 minutes into a one act show it felt like 10 minutes of agony. Then the script teases you with the end of the performance by putting on his jacket and hat and saying he is not going to re-tell the story of the Trojan horse, as we all know how that story ends. But don’t get ready to collect your jackets yet as the script dives back in to make sure you know the rest of the story. I end this review now, because unlike the Iliad I know when to stop.
Up Next: My year in review of the shows I have seen