Review: An Iliad

Dunstan Playhouse, Tuesday, March 4

Dunstan Playhouse, Tuesday, March 4

Denis O’Hare’s screen career has taken some interesting turns of late, from the Vampire King Of Mississippi Russell Edgington on HBO’s True Blood to Jessica Lange’s deformed henchman on FX’s American Horror Story. Although anticipation to see the Tony Award-winning actor on the Adelaide stage was high, O’Hare managed to exceed all expectations with his conversational and passionate delivery of An Iliad. As a lonely poet, a modernised substitute for Homer himself, O’Hare reluctantly retells the story of The Trojan War from The Iliad. Like all good storytellers, O’Hare employs voices for each character, sending up everyone involved – not just Helen and Paris. As his story transpires, it becomes clear that links between the personal feuds between ‘heroes’ Achilles, Hector and Agamemnon brought forth more bloodshed than was warranted – acting as a loose commentary to wars that have been waged for even more futile reasons since. Indeed, arguably one of the most impressive sequences you’ll ever see on stage is hearing O’Hare rapidly list every war that has occurred from The Trojan War until now – an awe-inspiring feat. As co-author, O’Hare tailored his talents to the role, captivating the audience throughout the 100 minute runtime on a story, which, unless you are familiar with Ancient Greek mythology, is at times difficult to follow. His co-author and director Lisa Petersen is equally talented in varying the simple stage effects to compliment the story without overshadowing it – setting the mood through light and amplification. The inclusion of double-bassist Brian Ellingsen was also inspired, as his sound effects became an extension of O’Hare’s words and characterisation, further drawing the audience into the epic tale. Old but certainly not out-of-date, An Iliad proved that while Homer’s story may be considered a thing of myth, there are lessons that society has still not learned some 2000 years since it was written. Rating: ****1/2 This review also appears on Rip It Up

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