"The Iliad" is not most people's favorite reading. Who would have thought a two-man play based on part of poem 13 centuries old would have packed Kennett High School?I think we can guess who had a classic education, as Freedom Village sent a medium sized bus and Jenner's Pond sent the largest bus I have ever seen in the parking lot, and it was full. There were no buses from local retirement homes. The Curio Theatre, sponsored by the Hadley Fund, held the audience enthralled as they recounted the sad tale of the death of Hector.
For those who have not read "The Iliad" for over 40 years, the retelling by the two intense actors was refreshing. The two young men, Paul Kuhn and Jared Reed, played all the parts without missing a beat. They stood and sat behind a table. There were no sets, no costumes, no lighting changes.
On the table were drums and guitars that were played like lyres. This was not really music but used for point-counterpoint emphasis and rhythm during the performance. I personally could have used a little less guitar, but that is a minor point. The actors kept the intensity of the performance with the changing timber of their voices. And they kept the audience stock still, even the high school students who had been rather restless before the show.
"The Iliad" by Homer and possibly a few other writers, is a poem giving the graphic details of the bloody war for Troy around the 7th century B.C. It begins with the rage of Achilles, the greatest warrior ever known. He has been dishonored when Agamemnon, the commander the Greeks forces at Troy takes a concubine spoil of war from Achilles, Agamemnon has had to give up his captive, Chryseis, the daughter of Apollo's priest, as Apollo has sent a plague against the Greeks in retaliation. Achilles is so enraged he withdraws from the fight, taking his army with him. The Trojans begin to lose. Achilles only reenters the war when his friend Patroclus is killed by the Trojan warrior Hector, son of King Priam. Achilles not only kills Hector, he defiles the body, dragging it around the camp
"The Iliad" is about the childish rage of Achilles, his injured pride, and how his withdrawal from the battles almost lead to the Trojans winning the war.
While discussing the war, Homer gives some of the most graphic descriptions of the horrors one would see. It is not enough to describe rivers of blood, but he gives the details of a spear severing a spine or the fastening of ropes to tendons. Extensive descriptions of the beautiful armor of Achilles are included.
It really did not matter how much anyone remembered of the story from reading it long ago, the actors made the action clear That just two members of The Curio Theatre could present the Iliad so beautifully and understandably was stunning.
The next Hadley Fund will be a talk by Dan George on Japanese Art, A Historical Perspective on Monday, Jan. 28, at 8 p.m. at Unionville High School.