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    Greeks baring rifts

    "Kings," a verse adaptation of the Achilles-Agamemenon feud in the "Iliad," is not for everyone but it's a good chance to experience Homer kind of like the ancient Greeks did.


    "Kings" is a verse performance based on Homer's "Iliad," more than read and less than acted by two guys in chairs. That's basically it — two guys in chairs, reciting a poem. I'm probably making the show sound quite unappealing to many of you reading this, and honestly, many people will find this show a bit tedious. But for the right person this is the right play — in fact, I enjoyed it.

    Written by: Christopher Logue.
    Directed by: James Milton.
    Based on "The Iliad" by: Homer.
    Cast: James Doherty, Michael T. Ringer.
    The first thing to remember about Homer is that he was a kind of traveling minstrel, entertaining the ancient Greeks from town to town with his poems. So listening to this rendition of his work — apparently, some combination of authentic Homer and slyly integrated original verses — carries a hint of the experience of hearing Homer himself sing the epic.

    As with Shakespeare, it takes 10 minutes or so to get acclimated to the unusual language in "Kings" and it's clearer when acted than when read. In this case, it also helps to know the cast of characters. (Achilles, the ego-bruised star warrior; Agamemnon, the leading Greek king who has swiped Achilles' prize concubine, Briseis; Patroclus, Achilles' best friend and also a top warrior; Hector, the Trojans' best fighter against the Greeks. References to "Achaeans" mean the Greeks.)

    The work is gamely performed by the elder, burlier, more imposing James Doherty and the younger, more impish Michael T. Ringer as Achilles and others. After a brief adjustment period, they give some punch to their pentameters.

    By now you should have a sense of whether you're the appropriate audience for this show. If so, go and enjoy.

    JUNE 5, 2001

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