War. What is it good for?

The Quinnipiac University theater department puts on a stunning performance of ‘An Iliad’

Ashley Pelletier, Associate Arts and Life Editor

Performers from Quinnipiac University’s theater department brought the costs of war into vivid color in a pandemic-friendly production of Homer’s “The Iliad.”

Photos from CJ Yopp/ Quinnipiac University

The play, which was an adaptation by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, streamed live on YouTube from March 18 to 27.

The performance features seven actors, each playing “poets” who narrate the show through monologues.

While all seven actors performed incredibly in their roles, three in particular stuck out to me. Sneha Sakhare, an actor and singer from New York City, did ethereal background vocals as well as a great monologue. Sarah Gass, a first-year 3+1 journalism and public relations double major, nailed her Quinnipiac debut with her lively character and dynamic performance. Esau Greene, a senior sociology and political science double major, showed amazing skill as a conversational actor in his main stage debut. I point these three out, but the entire cast shined in the production.

What I liked most about the show is how Peterson and O’Hare modernized the “The Iliad,” particularly in the references to each major war in the past several centuries. These references allow the audience to feel the impacts of a story distinct from Homer’s version due to the length of time since the Trojan War.

The play covers themes and costs of war, particularly through the character Hector. Hector is portrayed as a loving father to his infant son but a menace on the battlefield. When Achilles inevitably kills Hector out of revenge for Achilles’ friend, Patroclus, Hector’s father, Priam, begs for the body back. After a lot of pleading from Priam, Achillies gives the body to Hector’s family. However, once the peace for Hector’s burial was over, the Greeks slaughtered the Trojans, including Priam and Hector’s son.

These losses are portrayed as a waste of humanity as the war has been going on for years.

The minimalist set was also a great touch. The stage was bare, leaving only backlighting of blues, yellows, greens and reds. The rare use of spotlights led to the creation of silhouettes of the actors onstage, which I thought was really interesting. To me, it represented how the victims of war often do not get represented.

I also think that Quinnipiac’s theater department did an amazing job handling a production while complying with social distancing guidelines. The end of the production shows each poet with their own closed off section during which they can remove their mask to give their monologues, which I think was ingenious. It allowed the audience to get the full effect of the actors’ facial expressions while keeping the cast and crew safe.