Living in Exile: A War Story of Epic Proportions

Robert Walsh and Tamara Hickey; photo by Stratton McCrady c 2011

Living in Exile by Jon Lipsky, 3/17/11-3/27/11.  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

How do you fit the story of a ten year war into a night of entertainment?  First, take a familiar piece of material; second, get two talented actors; third, have Actor’s Shakespeare Project produce it.  Many students have struggled with The Illiad in school.  Jon Lipsky reinvents Homer’s story of the epic battle of Troy.

Robert Walsh as Agamemnon, Achilles, and Patroklos recount the first nine years of the war along with the female perspective from Tamara Hickey as Briseis.  The men move from the exhilaration of battle to the exhaustion of a war that does not seem that it will ever end.  The playwright reminds us that we are not immune to long, destructive wars as he compares the Trojan War to the War on Terror.  Robert Walsh’s animated performance is not hindered by his need to be in a wheelchair because of a recent injury; it shows how talented and flexible he is and that he cannot be held down.  An unintended effect of the wheelchair is that it makes Robert Walsh’s characters seem like injured war veterans recounting their tale for posterity.  As Brieseis, Tamara Hickey is sensual and strong.  She demonstrates that the women who survived the war were the ones who had cunning and knew how to manipulate their situation to their advantage.  Although abused, passed around, and viewed as a piece of property, Breseis does not lose herself.  The second act accounts for the actual text of The Illiad.  It brings the tumult and strife to proper Aristotelian resolution; however, the performance brings the audience to a further catharsis of the horrors or war as it relates to us in the present day. To add to the dramatic resonance, Bill Barclay and Ruby Rose Fox provide haunting background voices as well as live sound effects for the production.

Like Cymbeline, the set and lighting is simple and allows the actors’ talents to fully be displayed.   With this production, The Illiad is brought back to its oral storytelling roots.  Jon Lipsky and Actor’s Shakespeare Project have brought a long-suffering story back to life. TNETG.  3/19/11.

 

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