"In the Wound": Theater Review


Through Oct. 3 at John Hinkel Park, 41 Somerset (at Southampton), Berkeley. Free-$10; 510-841-6500 or

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After last year's fantastic postapocalyptic, outdoor version of Animal Farm, director and writer Jon Tracy and Shotgun Players return with an adaptation of The Iliad. Tracy's modern take focuses on Odysseus' attempt to avoid fighting in the Trojan War by pretending to be insane. But, of course, he does join the fight, and the battle scenes are quite thrilling. These sequences (choreographed beautifully by Dave Maier) feature a cast of more than 25, dressed like Road Warrior samurai and fighting with swords, crutches, and drumsticks. This is underscored by battlefield nurses pounding Japanese kodo-style drums high atop lookout towers. When the drama becomes too heavy, it's relieved by beautiful moments such as Odysseus' son throwing elegant paper-plane letters to his father, and soldiers suffering from PTSD seeking solace in therapy. As Agamemnon, Michael Torres steals the show, injecting dark humor into the endless war with nuggets like, "It's like you pooped sadness in a bag and delivered it to my party." Shotgun is doing an inspired service updating classics such as Animal Farm and its rock 'n' roll rendition of Beowulf. Now it adds The Iliad to that mix, and plans to offer Part Two in December.

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