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The Carletonian

David Brings Homer home: “An Illiad” Review

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The atrocities of the Trojan War seem so distant—and so different—from our lives, but how much has really changed? For his theater COMPS, Josh Davids tackles “An Iliad” by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, a one-man retelling of The Iliad.

Set through the lens of the present, Davids’ character, The Poet, recounts the ancient events with endearingly awkward humor and contemporary vernacular, and a taste of the original Greek thrown in for good measure.

As a Classical Studies and Theater double major, Davids’ performance was extremely relevant, and his passion for the material shone through his acting. He tells the famous heroes’ stories with vigorous energy, as the play attempts to humanize and modernize these legendary warriors.

He fully embodied the stories he recounted, such as Achilles in times of triumph and sorrow, Hector’s mournful mother Hecuba, and careless Patroclus as he charges the battle in Achilles’ armor. The script is dense: one hundred minutes of monologue packed with lists of names and places, but Davids handled it with ease, and acted his many characters with consistency.

The staging was a feat, particularly for a one-man show. Director Rebecca Stimson made remarkable use of the space, as Davids ran all over the stage with electrifying movements. Wooden crates, a table and chair, and the Poet’s own clothes were shockingly effective at conveying a story that involves thousands of people.

The bare Weitz wall was hung with three ethereal curtains, and the warm glow of lights evoked the feeling of a Greek island. As the plot weaved through the intricacies of the war, the stage evolved to match. Lighting designer Ryanne Chitjian’s work reflected the Poet’s raging emotions, and sound designer Chloe Bergstrand’s soundtrack lilted with the narrative.

The show was not easy to watch—it required attention and discipline to follow. While the energy was high throughout, the pace slowed in the middle, and the critic struggled to focus.

However, sticking with it was well worth the effort. “An Iliad” is a story that rewards the audience with connections—to the heroes, to their stories, and to the present—and it turns a wonderful perspective on the way we remember the world.


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