Just south of Lake Calumet, about halfway between the Loop and the smokestacks of Gary, Indiana, sits Altgeld Gardens. A low-rise public housing development with just over 3,000 residents, the neighborhood looks more like a suburban residential community than like the massive high-rises that dominate the narrative of Chicago public housing. Driving south on I-94, you’re more likely to notice the landfill on your left than the neat little rectangles of two-story row houses on the other side of the highway.
Already in the title a disarming modesty is in place. It’s intimate: an Iliad, this Iliad. Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare—the duo who adapted the twenty-four-book epic poem “The Iliad” into the ninety-five-minute one-man show “An Iliad”—aren’t interested in contending with Homer for the definite article. The drama of this performance, directed by Court Theatre’s Charles Newell, doesn’t derive from the struggle between the Trojans and the Greeks, or even from the rage of Achilles, but from the anxiety of one man who, having represented the bloodshed, the waste, and the tragedy of the Trojan War thousands of times across thousands of years, finds himself straining to make the ancient story present to us—and to himself—again. Continue reading