LIVING IN EXILE: A RETELLING OF THE ILIAD (Philadelphia Experimental Theatre Ensemble): Fringe Review 68

Perhaps ancient tales remain because they speak enduring truths that must be remembered. LIVING IN EXILE presents a compelling reinterpretation of the Trojan War; playwright Jon Lipsky’s script draws directly upon the Homeric tradition of oral recitation. The set reflects a living room—in contemporary dress, the actors transform the modern space into a battleground through the power of words alone. They speak directly to the audience without theatrical grandeur or extraneous performance. This is the Iliad that sings with the voice of the casualty.

Living-in-Exile-A-Retelling-of-the-Iliad_Philadelphia-Experimental-Theatre-EnsembleLIVING IN EXILE excels by boiling the Iliad down into a tale of compassion. Though Chris Latzke constantly switches character between Agamemnon, Achilles and Patroklos, the true male narrator is the last of the three. Patroklos’ words reflect the everyman—the audience member. Michelle Paul’s rendition of Briseis is a stunning portrait not of the helpless woman, but of the power one finds in the most hopeless of situations. It is an easy thing to retell the Iliad through the lens of the heroic and the larger-than-life. More difficult is Lipsky’s quest to mine the ancient epic for the overlooked and understated—to find the human element in a tale of demi-gods. The result is a stunning and humble portrait of the tragedy of war, from the days of Homer to 2014. [Skinner Studio at Plays and Players, 1714 Delancey Place] September 17-21, 2014; fringearts.com/living-in-exile

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