The indefinite article shares top billing in director Lisa Peterson and Tony Award – winning actor Denis O'Hare's mesmerizing adaptation of Homer's epic poem. This isn't the Iliad, or, at least, not the only one.
Building upon Robert Fagles' authoritative translation, this version channels the urgency of the original into a forceful reminder of the power of theater stripped to its essentials. ]Performing on a barren stage cluttered with backstage detritus (designed by Rachel Hauck) and lit by a single bulb (lighting design by Scott Zielinski), O'Hare assumes the guise of a weary bard, compelled to repeat his narrative as long as humanity has need of it – in other words, forever.
After invoking the muses, via music beautifully wrought by accompanying bassist Brian Ellingsen, O'Hare launches into his tale, seasoning it liberally with sly anachronisms. He pauses and breaks and backtracks, his voice rising and falling, his words swooping from nervous jangle to indolent lilt and back again, charting a narrative by turns savage and tender, escalating finally into an explosive, rapid-fire recitation of each major conflict in human history.
This is poetry as it was meant to be experienced, primal and raw, thrilling and transcendent.
The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Jan. 15, 17, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 31 and Feb. 1, 8 p.m.; Jan. 18, 1 p.m.; Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, 4 p.m.; through Feb. 2. (310) 434-3200, thebroadstage.com.