In addition to my love of silent films, hats, Chicago history, I adore theatre, specifically plays. I’ll see anything Shakespeare (though I do pause for Taming of the Shrew). There are certain companies and theaters that I favor: Court Theater, Strange Tree, Chopin Theater but I’ll try plays out around the city. I’m proud of all the small theaters around Chicago and try to make a point to support them when I can. I also enjoy wonderful productions in New York and London.
I’m really not one for musicals, especially ones in the theaters these days. I prefer the old ones, movies, like Singing in the Rain and the Music Man. There seems to be some quality missing in musicals these days though Stephen Sondheim seems to impress me with Sunday in the Park with George.
This evening I saw An Iliad at the Court Theater in Hyde Park. They first showed it in 2011 and brought it back for six weeks. It was glorious. It’s a one man show that manages to evoke the drama of the entire Iliad. You become immersed in the characters, namely Hector and Achilles; you feel their rages, their pain, their fragile humanity. He makes such an effective case for both of them; you understand why they do the horrible and brave things they do. Occasionally, the singer will stop and say, “Do you see it?” which is an incredible device to bring you back to the present day. Because yes, you do see it. You see the battle raging, the humans dying, the tears falling before you.
The play also demonstrates the challenge and fragility of storytelling. Constantly, the singer cannot remember parts of the story; he has to draw on recent struggles sometimes to tell the story. And it works. Storytelling is such a construction of what is remembered, how it is remembered and why it is remembered. But it also ties this war to all the past and present struggles. Some things simply never change.
It is simply a beautiful production. Go and see it while you can.