A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Denis O'Hare / Photo by Joan Marcus

Tony Award winner Denis O’Hare mesmerizes with “An Iliad,” his one-man show based on Homer’s epic poem about the Trojan War, at the Broad Stage. Co-author and Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson directs this precision-timed piece of theater with a jeweler’s skilled and sensitive touch.

O’Hare, costumed (by Marina Draghici) as a trench coated traveler hauling around his one worn suitcase, deceptively begins his tour-de-force as an overtired, maybe drunken man, rambling and attempting to bend your ear for a few. These ramblings quickly morph into a vividly gestured, expertly told account of the Trojan War, with allusions to wars in later history and modern times.

O’Hare’s intricately detailed accounts of incidents and characters leading up to the climax of the renowned Trojan Horse tale easily make your own envisioning crystal-clear. If you can remember being read to as a child, the simplest storytelling could transport your young, innocent mind to places and situations only your childlike imagination could think up. In “An Iliad,” O’Hare, a masterful storyteller, skillfully transports your adult, not-so-innocent, seen-it-all mind to the Trojan War in the 11th-century B.C.

In the course of his one-hour-and-40-minute piece-de-résistance, with minimal props at his disposal, O’Hare uses his entire body to illustrate and act out the myth and numerous dialogues between two or three characters in various scenes. Most effective is the scene in which the Trojan soldier Hector says good-bye to his wife and infant son before returning to the battlefield. The one-on-one fatal showdown between Hector and Achilles is also so elaborately depicted that it effectually gets your heart racing in sync with theirs.

The escalating drama is consistently heightened by the well-timed light cues (Scott Zielinski) and sound effects (Mark Bennett ) with effective mood-setting upright bass playing by Brian Ellingsen. Bravo to all!

—Gil Kaan, Culture Spot LA

Performances continue through Feb. 2, at the Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica 90401. Show times are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 4 p.m. For tickets, visit www.thebroadstage.com or call the box office at (310) 434-3200.