Fringe Review: Condensed Literature - The Iliad
Though sprinkled with the odd hilarious and emotional moments, Condensed Literature: The Iliad is confusingly told and over-acted, with more comedic misses than hits.
The Iliad tells the epic tale of the ancient Greek and Trojan war. Homer’s epic poem lasts 15,693 lines. It's no small challenge to condense that into sixty minutes. This challenge is made all the tougher as the playwright attempts to include all the major characters and their various story arcs. This leads to at least a quarter of the play being narrated by two different Homers and scenes so brief that if you blink you would miss them.
There are some great scenes that are explored poignantly and acted well, such as Patroclus sorrowful death, the vast remainder of the scenes are over too quickly for them to be meaningful. The first ten minutes mentions so many different characters that I was frankly lost. Though I will admit to not being particularly familiar with the original text. This was made worse by the odd forgotten line by one of the two narrator’s.
The play doesn’t take itself too seriously, which has its hits and misses. The actors accents range from Aussie swearword laden slang to a more grandiose style, such as Diomedes always pronouncing himself in a booming professional WWE wrestler-esque voice. This can be quite fun and helps the audience understand which character is on stage, as each of the eight actors plays several characters.
The comedy is certainly hilarious at times, such as the sex scene between Zeus, Hera and Hypnos. Other times it's forced and strange, such as an interview on the Jimmy Fallon show and a fight between Achilles and a river god, which is acted out in turn based combat as if it were game of Hearthstone.
In fact the comedy of the play is much like nearly everything else about it. A mixed bag of hits and misses.