Walter J. Lyng previews The Iliad and The Odyssey in The Suburban: “These productions are being designed with a youth crowd in mind […]; this doesn’t mean any of the complexities will be lost.”

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A Double Bill of Epic Proportions
Walter J. Lyng  – March 26, 2014

Converting either The Iliad or The Odyssey into a stage production would be a sizeable task for any theatre company. For its 33rd season, however, Geordie Productions will offer both of Homer’s classics in the confines of the Centaur Theatre, under the direction Micheline Chevrier and Dean Patrick Fleming. The Iliad will be presented from April 4-13, with The Odyssey following suit from May 9-18.

Both productions will feature the same cast of actors, including stage veterans Quincy Armorer, Daniel Brochu, Susan Glover, Karl Graboshas and Pippa Leslie, who will share multiple roles.

“I play a handful of characters,” says Graboshas. “One of them that stands out is a character named Polyphemus. He is an 11-foot-tall cyclops. He’s the son of Poseidon, who’s the God of the sea, and he’s basically friendly enough, until he gets crossed. I’ll have a lot of fun terrorising a lot of the other characters on stage.

“In The Iliad, the main character I play is Hector, who is a Trojan prince and one of the greatest warriors. And The Iliad is the story of the 10-year war between Troy and the Greeks. Hector is one of the few to almost last the entire 10 years. He’s really a remarkable character in that respect, but he does indeed meet his match in Achilles, who is a demi-God.”

While Geordie’s mandate in recent years has been to produce theatre for all audiences, these productions are being designed with a youth crowd in mind. Graboshas emphasizes, however, that this doesn’t mean any of the complexities will be lost.

“We’re not dumbing anything down but the story has been presented in a fashion that a 10-year-old will be able to follow,” he says. “Peter Smith took on the duties of adapting the huge mythological poems into theatre for young audiences. He’s done a really good job. I think the largest challenge has been finding out what needs to be in the story and what we can stage. It’s a good challenge.”

Although the source material is contextually similar for both plays, Graboshas explains that the themes addressed are quite different.

“The first one is very much based on war and what is at stake, and what pride causes in man,” he says. “The Odyssey is a completely different world. We do follow some of the same characters, but it’s about the return of Odysseus to Greece after the war is over. It’s an epic journey home.”

The design team features a set by Marjolaine Provençal, costumes by Marija Djordjevic, lighting by Andrea Lundy, and sound by Jesse Ash.

“From what we’ve seen, and from what’s been discussed, these are going to be really pretty shows and we’re just having a lot of fun exploring these characters and finding out what’s at the crux of these stories,” says Graboshas.