Posts tagged: Theatre of War
Image credit: Production still from Little Illiad, 2012
As an opening gesture, the whittling of the plasticine-like substance appear to be something the title character from Philoctetes would have done to keep himself occupied. Abandoned in madness and stranded on an island, Sophocles’ Philoctetes is a character gone mad from a war wound. He has been left behind by Ulysses at the beginning of the Trojan war only to be re-engaged in a conflict of revenge or solidarity. The theme of going at it alone or symbolically acting together is the running theme of the work.
Very few events cam ever be honestly described as a engrossing, but the levels of narrative unfolding in Little Iliad can only be described as such.
Evan Webber and Frank Cox-O’connell have created an intimate performance that absorbs and transcends physical dislocations and invisible barriers — otherwise known as the conventions of narrative cinema — to create a work that drills to the core of dramatic storytelling.
Reconsidering the poems of the Trojan War as possible outlets for Athenian Post Conflict stress disorders, Little Iliad takes its cue from The Theatre of War that are restaging major works by Sophocles and Shakespeare as a form of therapy for their PTSD soldiers.
Even if he is an apparition that switches on as a speaking, living, breathing phantom from the past in a not altogether realized present, Cox-O’connell cannot be under appreciated in his steadfast presence that becomes the metronome. Even if it’s his stage partner that is filmed, Webber as a character of himself gives a gently commanding performance that I can only relate to the film, Moon, where Sam Rockwell’s principle character elevates beyond the claustrophobia of a one-man show. I have never seen this level of intensity beyond a solo dance or virtuoso performance work, and I know it’s time these categories of genre need to be reconsidered when creations such as Little Iliad are added to the mix.
Because even if as I am writing this capsule, I am entirely unsure of what it was I was witness and observer to. Part eavesdropping, but still played to as a work of narrative with a resolution, Little Iliad doesn’t sit still within its own storyline of two old friends reconnecting as one goes off to war and one shapes a story out of their reconnection.
It would be too easy to break them down into dichotomies of the soldier and the artist, as their roles and identities slip and shift to undermine the rigidity of archetypes. The character of Webber directly says he is not going to question the value of war with a soldier. This echos the work, which is not about questioning the ethics of war, but reaching for a position of voice and perspective in friendships, myths, and estranged connections of those engaged in war. Canada has only recently come out of a nine year combat mission in Afghanistan. Stirs have been made about this work as a return to the political in theatre. I am not entirely sure when theatre stopped being political, or how art can ever be apolitical, but if this is a return, then Penelope has not been waiting in vain.
Little Illiad is presented by Boca Del Lupo and plays April 11: 7pm & 8pm, April 12: 7pm & 8pm, April 13: 7pm & 8pm & 9pm, April 14: 4pm (matinée), 7pm, 8pm, 9pm at The Anderson Street Space: 1405 Anderson St, Granville Island