Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 1, 2022

REVIEW: Shakespeare & Company, "An Iliad"

Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA
through July 3, 2022
by L'Kuicha Parks

Many theatregoers aren't keen on one-actor plays. In the case of "An Iliad, an exception should be made.

It was my first visit to Shakespeare & Company for a beautiful evening in the Berkshires. An Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare and directed by Jeffrey Mousseau takes place in the Packer Playhouse, named after the theatre troupe's founder Tina Packer.

The play is an adaptation of Robert Fagles' translation, written for the stage, of Homer's Iliad of the Trojan Wars. This story in particular covers a period of time in the war, which focuses on its two heroes, Hector and Achilles. Audience members need not be familiar with the ancient story, other than its roots are from Greek mythology. 

Amazingly, as mentioned above, the production was a one woman show; I initially had my doubts if one actor could carry off and entire war, so to speak. What I soon found out was that you don’t need to know anything about An Iliad or Homer's The Iliad for that matter, to enjoy it. The poetic narrative explains it all. As ancient as The Iliad is, this updated play of the historic story is easily applicable to today's world. 

I was pleasantly surprised and highly entertained by actress MaConnia Chesser in the role of the Poet. Her delivery is strong throughout. From the moment Chesser entered on stage the audience was captive. For the next 110 minutes she was the Griot taking us on a ride, smoothly moving from The Poet telling the story to portraying the many characters in numerous scenes. At several points, Chesser's Poet steps beyond the fourth wall in conversation with those seated in the theatre, yet the play continued seamlessly with Chesser always in character. 

Chesser bio lists her extensive theater background especially in the New England states.  

My suggestion is to get out and enjoy the Berkshires this week and this production of An Iliad which runs until July 3.