American Players Theatre Presents AN ILIAD Review — One Man Retelling an Epic

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American Players Theatre Set In Ruins

Inside the Touchstone,  the theatre has been turned into a lecture hall. Front and center is a large teacher’s lab desk. Behind it, a blackboard with cabinets next to it. A skeleton stands off to the side completing this look of a science classroom. 

But what makes this classroom unlike one we’ve seen before is it looks like it has been wrecked and torn apart. Knowing we’re about to see a show adapted from The Iliad, this setting feels like it’s been ripped apart by the war itself. A chair is overturned. What is hopefully red paint is splattered across the floor and chalkboard. Charred books sit in circles of ash like they had recently been on fire. 

Our seats in the audience have become the seats in this lecture hall and we become the students waiting for class to begin.

American Players Theatre AN ILIAD

Class is in Session

Jim DeVita as The Poet enters the classroom dressed in the quintessential professor’s outfit; tweed suit with elbow patches, brown vest and tie underneath. He greets us and begins to discuss today’s lecture, the Trojan War. 

He engages with his audience asking them questions and breaking the fourth wall as if we really were in his classroom. He does so with ease and jokes with us, giving us the sense if we were in school he’d be voted favorite teacher at the end of the year. Then slowly the lights in the audience begin to fade and we’re fully immersed in his retelling of this story.

American Players Theatre AN ILIAD
American Players Theatre AN ILIAD

Masterful Storytelling

DeVita draws us in from the very beginning of his lecture and keeps us with him as he tells Homer’s story of the Trojan War. He becomes multiple characters and switches back and forth with ease, integrating them into his lecture. As he tells us about Agamemnon, he leans back against the desk, imaginary bottle in hand. He stands as proud Hector beating on his chest defending his city. He becomes Achilles with murder in his eyes as he races into the final battle. 

Slowly as the play goes on, he becomes more and more engrossed into the story and becoming these characters. We feel we’re experiencing each of the characters’ emotions and horrors of war right alongside him.

He is also accompanied by cellist Alicia Storin who acts as the Muse. DeVita calls upon the Muse to inspire him and Storin plays the cello to create the atmosphere and sound for the story. Though they don’t have any direct lines with each other, they still interact in unspoken words and have a dynamic that feels like Storin sends inspiration to DeVita. 

By the end, you, just as this reviewer, may feel as though you’ve have been in this war. An Iliad would be a good fit for those who like dramatic one-man shows, and who want to feel fully engrossed in this war epic.     

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CAST:

The Poet: Jim DeVita
The Muse: Alicia Storin

CREATIVE TEAM:

Director: John Langs
Voice & Text Coach: Sara Becker
Costume Design: Holly Payne
Scenic Design: Brian Sidney Bembridge
Lighting Design: Jesse Klug
Sound Design & Original Music: Josh Schmidt
Stage Manager: Rebecca Lindsey

WHEN:

Through August 15, 2021
Performance dates and times vary

WHERE: 

The Touchstone Theatre
American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
Spring Green, WI

TICKETS:

$56+
Tickets can be purchased through the American Players Theatre website.

Images Courtesy of Liz Lauren

Alexis Bugajski

About the Author: Alexis Bugajski

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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