If you want to see what a “tour de force” looks and sounds like, don’t miss AN ILIAD, now thru February 15 at the Rep’s home, Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus.
Written by Tony Award-winning actor (and KC native) Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson, based on Robert Fagles translation, AN ILIAD breaths stunning, muscular life into that dusty old book you had to read in high school or college (sorry, Classics majors).
Under the masterly direction of Jerry Genochio, one story of vanity, hubris and death plucked from the lengthy pages of Homer’s epic poem becomes a heart-wrenching polemic on the pointlessness of war.
This Iliad (and Kyle as the Poet who hates having to repeat the story) tells us about the noble Trojan Hector, the charismatic Greek warrior Achilles and the various gods who, like housewives tuning into the mid-morning soaps, gaze down from Olympus as the humans rip each other apart. In Hatley and Genocio’s able hands, O’Hare and Peterson bring the story disheartingly up to date. Kabul, Syria, Darfur– the gods may have changed, but the flesh is still flying.
Hatley’s only on-stage companion is musician Raymond Castrey, who provides a shimmering aural context to the Poet’s tale on an astonishing variety of strings, drums, gongs, whistles and stuff. Martin Andrew‘s set impresses, though it doesn’t clarify where we are– no matter. Grant Wilcoxen provides some lovely moments with his light design. as does Joshua Horvath with sound.
But it’s Kyle up there for 90 plus minutes, making the story (and all of these characters) come alive that makes this ILIAD remarkable.
I’ve admired this actor’s work in a number of settings, though I’ve often felt he relied too easily on his good looks and ready talent to carry a role. AN ILIAD– and being onstage alone for an hour and half– takes Hatley to a new level, a deeper well. He made the time fly by.
And that’s something Homer would have been appreciated, one epic storyteller to another.