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Jim Covault recites An Iliad at Stage West, accompanied by Jordan Jones Cleaver.

“Every time I sing this song, I hope it’s the last time,” says the narrator of An Iliad. Homer’s epic poem has inspired myriad adaptations and bastardizations in every storyteling medium you can think of. Inspired by Robert Fagles’ translation of the poem, actor Denis O’Hare and director Lisa Peterson sought to bring the story back to its roots in their stage work that concentrates on a week of the 10-year Trojan War, boiling it all down to a dramatic monologue for a single actor, accompanied by a bassist or cellist who also provides sound effects. This is how the poem must have started life, as a song sung by a wandering bard inhabiting all the characters and evoking this vast landscape with only his voice.

Yet just as Homer sought metaphors and figures of speech that would resonate with his audience, so this play also resorts to contemporary speech that will undoubtedly infuriate the Homeric purists. (The narrator at one point compares the Greeks’ predicament to a shopper who has been waiting 20 minutes in a slow checkout line.) These come interspersed with high-flown verse and even lines in the original Greek, and somehow it adds up to a cohesive 100-minute performance. At least that’s what Stage West is hoping when it brings this 2012 play to us.

 

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An Iliad runs Thu thru Sep 18 at Stage West, 821 W Vickery St, FW. Tickets are $10-35. Call 817-784-9378.

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