Actors, aspiring actors, or those who simply admire and appreciate the craft itself should not miss seeing Henry Woronicz’s astonishing solo performance in “An Iliad,” presented by Indiana Repertory Theatre on its Upperstage. The production, which opened on Oct.18 and was seen Thursday by Examiner.com, continues through Nov. 16 at the downtown Indianapolis theater.
Woronicz stars as The Poet in a 100-minute retelling of Homer’s epic poem, the "Iliad," about the Trojan War, adapted by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare from a translation by Robert Eagles. For those not inclined towards classical literature, rest assured, the dialogue here is mostly delivered in vernacular English.
“An Iliad” is a deeply impactful story that draws disquieting parallels between the wars of old and those still taking place in today’s world in which the worst of human nature, as manifested in desire for power, ego, greed and hubris, is embodied in conflicts and disputes that continue to cause death and destruction for mankind. The story also causes one to reflect on how it is possible to despise war but at the same time hold the warriors themselves up on pedestals.
Directed by Fontaine Syer, the focused Woronicz seamlessly played multiple characters, constantly moved about the stage, showed tremendous physical and emotional stamina, and transfixed the audience as he single-handedly helped them visualize a story of grand historical scale with present day implications.
Contributing to the timelessness of the piece was designer Robert Mark Morgan’s intriguing set which featured the brick façade of a turn of the century era industrial building located in the alley of an urban location.
Designer Betsy Cooprider-Bernstein was responsible for an effective lighting scheme that established fitting moods and the constantly shifting locations traversed by The Poet.
Sound designer Andrew Hopson created a score that was classical in vein which heightened the play's atmosphere with its often ethereal sound.
There is a section towards the end of the potent “An Iliad” script in which Woronicz as The Poet departs from Homer’s tale as he rattles off a litany of major wars and battles starting with the Trojan War and ending with the present conflict in Syria. This speech and "An Iliad," itself is a sobering reminder that war has always existed and may likely continue, but if we stop talking about how war takes lives, we'll lose hope of having a peaceful world altogether.
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