From Pahl's Pen - A review of AN ILIAD

PAHLPITATIONS - An Intimate Journey Through Time and Space

February 20, 2016

By Richard Pahl

I was fortunate to be a part of the Opening Night audience for Janus Theatre's AN ILIAD. Publicity materials indicated that the rehearsal process took the cast on an unexpected journey. The actors seemed stoked to finally share their work with a sold out audience equally eager to experience whatever surprises awaited them.
 
If you were paying attention in school, you will remember that the original ILIAD is an ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer which recounts the ten-year Trojan War. This stage adaptation yanks it forward to encompass the intervening strife-filled centuries.
 
AN ILIAD is performed by four dynamic actors all taking on the role of the Poet in a theatrical relay race. Since the Poet seems to have witnessed the vagaries of war through many centuries, it doesn't seem unusual that he occasionally changes his physical form. As the Poet bears witness to the things he has seen, he portrays an array of characters and plays out select scenes. We meet warriors on both sides of the battle, a wife, a mother, a father, a child. This muscular cast has no choice but to utilize its entire array of vocal and physical skills.
 
I have seen hundreds of theatrical productions in my lifetime; this is undoubtedly the most intimate and personal. The performance consists of equal parts acting and storytelling. The Poet effectively embraces the audience as a new friend as he tells his story, acts out its events and frequently comments on its happenings from a contemporary perspective. Although the Poet has seemingly forgotten specific details of this long ago war, he is nevertheless plagued with memories of its horrors, foolishness and futility.
 
In this original production the Poet leads the audience on a journey through time and space—literally. Famous for its summer Walkabout productions, Janus Theatre performs AN ILIAD in the green room, a dressing room and several areas in the auditorium. This simulation of travel and the passage of time works effectively for the play.
 
This play will never again be performed in such a unique manner. If you are a fan of classic literature or strong acting or clever storytelling or once in a lifetime experiences, you won't want to miss Janus Theatre's AN ILIAD.

Richard Pahl is an actor, director, and writer, who has worked in professional, community, and college theater for close to 40 years. He has traveled the country plying his trade at various regional theaters. He was the creator of both Playwrights' Advocate and Page To Stage - incubators for new play production, where local and regional plays were commissioned and simply staged in front of live audiences, providing critical feedback for the playwrights. Pahl also served proudly on the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission from 2007-2014.