An Iliad

The Studio Theatre
1501 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
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"An Iliad": A Song That Will Linger

We've all heard the phrase, "a voice that carries." In the Studio Theatre's production of "An Iliad" the voice of actor Scott Parkinson doesn't just carry — it does phenomenal heavy lifting as he performs this new interpretation of "The Iliad" by director Lisa Peterson and actor Denis O'Hare. Parkinson's one man show is a tour de force of vocal acting. He brings the people of the Iliad to life with a voice of compelling sweetness and flexibility. In an instant he morphs from proud, impetuous Achilles to old, sad and dignified King Priam to grieving Hecuba. At times during his performance I had to remind myself that there was only one actor, not three on the stage. Supported by musician Rebecca Landell who provides music and occasional sound effects on the cello, Parkinson creates his "Troy" in a set that looks like an abandoned warehouse. Props are minimal: a ladder, a table, a rolling cart, a shabby suitcase, a bottle. The retelling of the Iliad is straightforward narrative. His character, "the poet," however injects some post-modern irony into the mix. This poet is not Homer, because he isn't blind. He's a shabby vagrant with a cardboard suitcase who talks of better days when he had larger audiences. Rather than celebrating heroic deeds, he — like a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder — seems to obsessively relive the war. He frequently stops the narrative to medicate himself from a bottle of booze while reciting all the wars he's seen as kind of a mantra. The kicker is that his list starts somewhere around the Battle of Jericho, goes through a laundry list of wars that spans several millennia right up to the Iraq war and then he tries to spit out the name of the war after that but it's so horrible he chokes and drinks, chokes and drinks… The question of whether he is he a nut case, a ghost, a seer or the survivor of a war to come is never explored in the play. Instead his intimations of an approaching doomsday added an element of creepiness that lingered long after the play had ended.

"An Iliad": A Song That Will Linger

We've all heard the phrase, "a voice that carries." In the Studio Theatre's production of "An Iliad" the voice of actor Scott Parkinson doesn't just carry — it does phenomenal heavy lifting as he performs this new interpretation of "The Iliad" by director Lisa Peterson and actor Denis O'Hare. Parkinson's one man show is a tour de force of vocal acting. He brings the people of the Iliad to life with a voice of compelling sweetness and flexibility. In an instant he morphs from proud, impetuous Achilles to old, sad and dignified King Priam to grieving Hecuba. At times during his performance I had to remind myself that there was only one actor, not three on the stage. Supported by musician Rebecca Landell who provides music and occasional sound effects on the cello, Parkinson creates his "Troy" in a set that looks like an abandoned warehouse. Props are minimal: a ladder, a table, a rolling cart, a shabby suitcase, a bottle. The retelling of the Iliad is straightforward narrative. His character, "the poet," however injects some post-modern irony into the mix. This poet is not Homer, because he isn't blind. He's a shabby vagrant with a cardboard suitcase who talks of better days when he had larger audiences. Rather than celebrating heroic deeds, he — like a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder — seems to obsessively relive the war. He frequently stops the narrative to medicate himself from a bottle of booze while reciting all the wars he's seen as kind of a mantra. The kicker is that his list starts somewhere around the Battle of Jericho, goes through a laundry list of wars that spans several millennia right up to the Iraq war and then he tries to spit out the name of the war after that but it's so horrible he chokes and drinks, chokes and drinks… The question of whether he is he a nut case, a ghost, a seer or the survivor of a war to come is never explored in the play. Instead his intimations of an approaching doomsday added an element of creepiness that lingered long after the play had ended.