By Denis O’ Hare & Lisa Peterson
Based on Homer’s The Iliad
Translated by Robert Fagles
Directed by Charles Newell
At Court Theatre, Chicago
Tour de force performance by Timothy Edward Kane gives passion to Homer’s saga
One of the many remarkable things about Timothy Edward Kane’s riveting performance of Homer’s The Iliad is his nimble ability to both reach the depths of despair and the jubilation as the Poet who tells the story of the mythical ten-year Trojan War. Kane’s performance is a major theatrical triumph as he glides through 90 minutes of verbal dexterity that includes speaking in classical Greek, delivering Homer’s lines (translated by Robert Fagles), and adding modern references as extemporized comments to give contemporary relevance to the epic poem.
Timothy Edward Kane successfully keeps us engaged as we share his completely internalized reliving of the story of the ten-year war of the Greeks versus the Trojans. An Iliad was written by Lisa Peterson & Denis O’ Hare utilizing Robert Fagles’ translation to have been performed by O’ Hare live at the Seattle Rep. The piece contained improvised asides and comments by O’ Hare that were recorded by Peterson. Unfortunately, Peterson and O’ Hare never were able to produce they work together but they have allowed Court Theatre to mount the work with Charles Newell directing and Timothy Edward Kane playing the Poet.
The key element that makes this theatrical event so noteworthy is that Kane’s amazing classical acting training together with his expert articulation and enunciation and his ability to makes us ‘see’ each character whether it be Achilles, Agamemnon, Patroclus or King Priam. Kane’s fabulous performance gets aid from Todd Rosenthal’s large bomber-out cement bunker set and from Keith Parham’s riveting lighting and from Andre Pluess’ eerie sound. Charles Newell’s blocking that found Kane moving about, as his emotions spirited him about, kept the story fresh and engaging. The dramatization of the confrontation between Achilles and Hector by Kane became so real that, for an instant, Kane’s eyes seemed to be recalling the actual event.
In once scene, Kane quickly rattles off every war through the ages from the Trojan War to our current war in Afghanistan. This recitation exemplifies Kane’s verbal skills. It was amazing!
Newell and Kane captured the essence of the source material by using one performer to orally tell Homer’s epic story as, indeed, the Greeks did for hundreds of years before a text was writted. How appropriate that one of the great poems of Western literature be performed live at a major Chicago theatre by one of finest classical actors. Court Theatre and Timothy Edward Kane surly do their parts to keep the story of follies of war alive. An Iliad vividly takes a harrowing look at the human cost of war. As a theatrical experience, An Iliad delivers the power and passion of the saga. After all, Homer’s Iliad was meant to be experienced in a live performance. Timothy Edward Kane’s performance was truly one for the ages. You’d be hard pressed to find a more mesmerizing stage performance than Kane delivers here. Every actor needs to experience Kane’s work to see the skills necessary for a tour de force performance.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: November 19, 2011
Fro more information, checkout the An Iliad page at Theatreinchicago.com
At Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL, 773-743-4472, www.courttheatre.org, tickets $40 – $60, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 pm, running time is 90 minutes without an intermission, through December 14, 2011