As those who were lucky enough to see Court Theatre's hot-ticket staging of An Iliad two years ago can attest, Timothy Edward Kane is nothing short of astonishing in Denis O'Hare and Lisa Peterson's 90-minute distillation of Homer's epic, now remounted for a limited run. As the unnamed Poet, a sort of immortal, contemporary stand-in for Homer's storyteller, Kane commands the stage for 100 minutes, recounting a piece of The Iliad—focusing on the particular conflict between Achilles and Hector—in relatably modern, remarkably spontaneous-seeming language, with an eye toward simultaneously personalizing and universalizing the horrors of the Trojan War.
Kane stalks Todd Rosenthal's dingy underground bunker of a set, surrounded by loose bricks piled like bones. This haunted historian wants to paint us a picture of one war to represent all war, but every once in a while he himself succumbs to his own songs of the irrational rage that keeps us fighting. Kane demonstrates remarkable control of his physicality, emotional projection and vocal instrument; it's a performance that washes over you in both laps and waves, made all the more stark by designer Keith Parham's striking use of uplighting. And its power is entirely undiminished on second viewing. If you missed An Iliad in 2011, don't let yourself make that mistake again.