Historical and, at times, histrionical, An Iliad is one man’s tireless recounting of the Trojan War, the kind of experience you wish you’d had in that interminable world history class. Henry Woronicz, however, is the “Poet,” not the professor, in this one-act affair running through Sept. 9 at La Jolla Playhouse. When he’s not bounding around the stage en route to the battlefield or the gates of Troy, he’s pantomiming spear-wielding combat, inhabiting the spirits of brave Achilles and heroic Hector, and taking time out for some fortifying “tequila.” His only companion in the storytelling is musician Brian Ellingsen, who from the bleachers provides atmospheric accompaniment on the double bass and other instruments.
Interesting though the Trojan War may be for buffs (Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson’s play is loosely based on Homer’s “The Iliad”), this production is not as theatrical as it should be, even with Woronicz’s animations. An Iliad rises above the stationary when it turns metaphorical, as when Woronicz recites chronologically and at machine-gun speed mankind’s wars over tortured time. The waste and the futility speak for themselves.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.