Have you ever been to a dog show? Maybe you saw the big one on Thanksgiving. An Irish Setter named Clooney won the trophy for doing what the man told him to do. He walked over here, and ran over here. He stood up on this thing and crawled through that hole. Then he shook his beautifully manicured head and sang "Oh Susanna". I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty fucking cool. So you can imagine what I was thinking when I went to review "The Iliad" at A Red Orchid Theatre Company. The play is performed by the youth ensemble (13 8 year old girls). I don't know if they were all 8, but there were 13 of them. I think some were a little older and some were younger. Whatever, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that they are young. I will spare using their names in this review because no 8 year old should ever see their name on this blog unless they are Ada Grey (one of our new critics) or one of our daughters or someone who is dead already.
Anyway, I went in there thinking that this was gonna sorta be like a dog show. Look at these children walking over to this platform and saying their lines as they were told to do.
This was not the case. All the performers had made their own choices and understood what was happening in the play. My favorite was King Priam. The old king that was regretful for some of his decisions. Achilles was great too and so was Paris. THEY WERE ALL SO GOOD (and as cute as can be)!!
Do you know what is frightening? When a 5 year old girl is holding a sword and telling everyone that she wants blood. It immediately makes you think of her as a 40 year old woman that ran out of ice cream and is holding a sword.
Does everyone know what "The Iliad" is? It is an ancient Greek play written by Homer that was meant to torture college kids. In fact, that is what it is still used for today. For some reason, college professors seem really interested in Greek plays. They tell you things like, Greek plays are when dialogue first came to the stage, and the power struggle between men and women is very clear so it's a great learning tool. I think that is bullshit, because Greek plays are boring as fuck and Neil Simon and Neil LaBute plays tell women what we think of them.
The Iliad is the story of 2 armies fighting for land and money. Agamemnon wants to fight a lot and his army doesn't want to, because the other army is blah blah blah blah.
Do you know where Agamemnon put his armies? In his SLEEVIES!!!
Anyway, despite all the negative connotation that comes with this play because it is boring and stupid, the director Steve Wilson has outdone himself.
This is a little stage with a lot of kids running around, and Steve Wilson with his assistant director, Erin Barlow have clearly communicated their ideas to the kids and given the story one hell of a cool treatment. The fight director, Sarah Fornace, got these kids to do an actual fight that most theatre companies would be glad to get out of their 30 year olds. Sean Mallary, the world's greatest lighting designer does some cool tricks but I think what is really the best thing about this play is the length.
It is 70 minutes long, which is exactly the length it should be. The story gets told, we learn about the horrors of war, the kids are awesome, and we all go our separate ways.
I loved it and will try to see it again. Go see it before it closes and then the only kids you will see perform will be on "That's So Raven"!