Naples theater’s ‘Iliad’ a different odyssey from classic

Note to high school honors students: You will not get an easy Cliff Notes version of Homer’s classic when Gulfshore Playhouse opens “An Iliad” this week. You will get the distillation to its most precious nugget of truth, however: That war is a bloody zero-sum game, often the territory of narcissists and true believers.

And you’ll get it that truth in a gripping way, with Jeffrey Binder, the theater’s associate artistic director, turning himself into at least five characters, including Helen of Troy, as he re-tells its critical narrative. This is not a Greek “Greater Tuna,” with each character homelier than the next. As The Poet, a nameless figure who is consumed with explaining the story, Binder must evolve into personalities that have kept its fires ablaze as great literature for something approaching 28 centuries.

He is the entire show. Even the original at the New York Theatre Workshop brought in a bass player as occasional musical counterpoint, doubling as the poet’s muse. But under the direction of Kristen Coury, founder and producing artistic director of the Playhouse, lights and sound effects are Binder’s only foils.

He’s fine with that. No, he’s ecstatic with it.

Harriet Howard Heithaus,
Naples Daily News

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