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Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Ithaka" by Andrea Solowitz

"Ithaka" was the result of a local New Work Contest called The Fowler/Levin Prize. I note this first for a couple of reasons: One is that I have always felt privileged to be among the first to see work that few others have seen. The other reason is: The Prize reminds me that I live in a city which values the arts, and sadly we need such reminders these days, when our Paper of Record not only editorializes against a modest Arts Tax, but also when that tax faces hurdles to implementation, takes the opportunity to crow.....

From the Playwright's Note we learn that the events in the play are compiled from the recollections of local Veterans of the current wars. My first thought when I read that was: "Oh, that must've been so interesting!" A purely journalistic reaction, one which envied Ms. Stolowitz's opportunity to research a subject, and have people tell her their stories. Sitting here now, having seen the play, and needing a full day to digest it enough to write about it, I realized how divorced from the subject-matter my reaction was....

"Ithaka" takes its title from the island Odysseus is returning to in The Odyssey, after the Trojan War. Odysseus  is briefly used as a character in the play, to serve as an early example of a soldier who gets lost on his journey home.

The play's protagonist is Capt. Elaine Edwards (Dana Millican), who is in the grip of PTSD. Millican plays the character as if she's split into thirds: a woman putting on a brave and happy face, a woman struggling to cope with the things we expect, like nightmares, and a woman teetering on the edge of sanity...

I've said before that this season has probably been Artists Rep's best, a season filled with hard-hitting shows. I must say once again that I am thankful for things like the Fowler/Levin Prize, and I am also thankful for Artists Rep, a venue willing to nurture the work.

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