Jeffrey Limoncelli ’16/ Emertainment Monthly Staff
‘Tis the season of one-man/woman shows! This year, there have been dozens, including Ann (starring Holland Taylor), I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers (Bette Midler), Macbeth (Alan Cumming), The Testament of Mary (Fiona Shaw), and Buyer & Cellar (Michael Urie), and two right out of ArtsEmerson, The Pianist Willesden Lane (Mona Golabek) and Emergency (Daniel Beaty), among others. All these shows have both the elements of incredible performances and engaging scripts. However, it is An Iliad, starring Denis O’Hare, that is the most inventive, taking an ancient poem and translating it for a modern audience.
In An Iliad, the audience is not presented with merely a staged reading of Homer’s original text. Rather, Mr. O’Hare modernizes the text, humorously summarizing complicated parts (after specifying the number of ships each group of soldiers had, he is unable to do the math in his head in order to get the exact number, and sums up by saying that there were many) and using modern comparisons to help illustrate scenes, such as an instance where he compares one character’s anger to the anger one may feel while being cut off on a highway.
Mr. O’Hare’s performance is top-caliber. From speaking softly to dominating the room, he becomes the outer shell for the power and emotion of the poem that lives within him, speaking through him. Did my attention fade every so often? Yes. However, as I am not the biggest fan of Greek mythology, I expected that was bound to happen. It was by no means as a result of Mr. O’Hare’s performance. Even if I was not exactly sure what was going on, I was still captivated by the energy he brought to the stage.
Since adaptations of classic works seem to make up a majority of theatrical performances, it was refreshing to see an adaptation as innovative and well-performed as An Iliad. For anyone looking to take part in Homer’s adventure, join Denis O’Hare in it’s final weekend at the Paramount Theatre for a first-class ride.