“An Iliad” – A Reimagined Classic
La Jolla Playhouse
2910 La Jolla Village Drive
La Jolla, CA 92037
A Review …and …. events leading up to the play … and after.
This “dating game” that I am playing sure has many twists and turns. I met a man on-line Saturday and he told me he had tickets to see “An Iliad” the following day, Sunday. He asked me if I would like to go. I said sure. We agreed to talk to each other Sunday morning, and finalize the plans.
I called him around 10:15am and we agreed to meet at the box office at 1:30pm for the 2:00pm matinee. In the course of our conversation he asked me what I would be wearing. I told him I didn’t know yet; it depended on the weather. He informed me that he hoped I would not be wearing anything “frumpy” because he didn’t like frumpy women. He said that many of the older women he has met already have “one foot in the grave, and are not aware of how they look.” He is 65. He asked me if I was overweight or fat. Hmmm. I told him I was overweight. He said, “so am I.”
I arrived at the playhouse at 1:20pm and called his cell phone to let him know I was there. He said he was on La Jolla Village Drive and would be there in just a few minutes. He said he was wearing a white hat.
When he arrived, it was easy to spot his white hat, but he was also carrying a book – he said he never went anywhere without a book – and he went to collect the tickets. The patio at the Mandell Weiss pavilion is laid out well, with nice chairs available until the play begins. As we were getting up to go into the playhouse, I said that the chairs were not meant for small people – meaning short people. His retort was, “neither of us is small.” I had already made up my mind to leave at intermission, only to find out that there was no intermission; the one man show ran approximately 140 minutes.
If you remember anything about the original Iliad it was about the Trojan/Greek War. According to popular myth:
“ . . . the seeds of the Trojan War were planted when Eris, the goddess of discord and conflict was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Angry at the omission, Eris threw a golden apple inscribed ‘For the Fairest’ among the goddesses who were invited to the wedding.
It rolled to where three goddesses were sitting and each goddess claimed the apple and begged Zeus to choose the fairest. He refused to choose and enlisted the messenger Hermes to pass the task of judgment on to Paris, Son of Hecuba and Priam, King of Troy, and younger brother of Hector.
All of the goddesses offered Paris gifts. Paris chose Aphrodite. The most beautiful woman in the world happened to be Helen of Sparta, wife of the Greek king Menelaus and brother of Agamemnon. They invited Paris to their home as a guest.
Aphrodite, being the goddess of love, turned to her arts and made Helen fall in love with Paris and arranged Helen’s abduction. Paris brought Helen to Troy as his wife. Menelaus sent a thousand ships to bring Helen back to Greece. Thus began the Trojan War.”
This play was a restaging of the original Iliad, but brought up to date in several sequences. The premise is that nothing has really changed since the Trojan War.
The only actor – Henry Woronicz – did a fantastic job using only 5 props – a chair, a table, a bottle of liquor and glass, and a suitcase. He shifted from one scene to another as he played all the roles with the music from the bass player, Brian Ellingsen. The music made the transition from one segment of the play to another very “visual, in spite of there not being anything visual about the transition. Brian coaxed a variety of sounds out of the instrument that added to the scene changes.
Perhaps the most electrifying part of the play was when the actor began to numerate all of the wars that the world has seen. It took over ten minutes to list them, and he ended with Syria. It is obvious that the world has learned nothing about armed conflicts.
My friend fell asleep during the play, which was embarrassing since we were in the 3rd row center. I felt that the actor probably could hear him snoring. However, as I looked around the audience, there were several men that were asleep also.
It is a deep play; not many laughs; after all, it is about war. That is to take nothing away from Mr. Woronicz, an accomplished actor with credits from a variety of sources. It is also interesting to note that Mr. Ellingsen has a Bachelors degree from the Hartt School and a Masters degree from Yale.
Following the end of the play, my date and I walked out with a friend of his. And, it seems, that he forgot I was with him. I walked out of the grounds alone, to my car alone, without another word being exchanged between us. Oh Yes! I did email him when I arrived home, thanking him for asking me to join him and expressing sorrow that he did not like the play. I also hoped that he would find someone that was “worthy” of him in the near future.
An Iliad runs thru September 9th * Tickets & Info
By Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson * Based on Homer’s The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles * Directed by Lisa Peterson