“Ajax in Iraq”, Ellen Mclaughlin’s play offers the ambitious theatre and competent director a priceless opportunity of razzle-dazzling the back molars out of an audience.
The play harmonizes two overlapping tales, that of the legendary Greek warrior driven mad by the injustice of not being awarded the armor of Achilles, and a contemporary tale of a service woman in Iraq driven mad by a much more insidious injustice.
The piece allows for military cadence, dance, music and a cornucopia of theatrics.
Drawing on elements of classical theatre and gilded with the pyrotechnics available to a modern mounting, “Ajax in Iraq” at the Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica by the Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble presents a magnificent muscular staging throughout its 100 minutes.
The company is coherent and in sync as a unit, a rarity in what passes as an ensemble troupe nowadays.
Aaron Hendry as Ajax and Courtney Munch as A.J., his corresponding counterpoint in this story of betrayal and madness, succeed in skillfully bringing the narrative motif to fruition, fusing the two tragedies and bringing to each a sharper reverberation.
Emma Bell as Athena provides the Gods’ mocking indifference to humanity’s fate, and does so…well divinely.
John Farmanesh-Bocca brings style and vigor to his staging that never lacks for dynamics.
“Ajax in Iraq” is having a limited run at the Miles, but if you miss it, I highly recommend checking out the N.M.A.P.T.E. website at www.NotManApart.com. I dare say this is a company worth watching.
Ajax in Iraq
Miles Memorial Playhouse
1130 Lincoln Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(just north of Wilshire Blvd.)
Performances: May 8-June 1
Thursdays at 8 p.m.: May 29
Fridays at 8 p.m.: May 30
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: May 24, 31
Sundays at 5 p.m.: May 25; June 1
General Admission: $25;
Student Rush Thursdays: $10, at the door, subject to availability
Free event parking available at the underground garage serving the 808 Wilshire Bldg., entry on Lincoln (just south of Wilshire Blvd.)