Javert, Judge Brack, Bud Frump — all these nasty dramatic characters could rightfully be called stinkers. But if you want a real, literal stinker, you have to go back to Sophocles and his pathetic but ultimately heroic character, Philoctetes.
Irish poet and 1995 Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney's adaptation of that play, The Cure At Troy, had a run at NYC's Jean Cocteau Repertory in 1998 and now gets another airing in downtown Manhattan, Jan. 31-Feb. 24. Produced by the Blue Heron Theatre and directed by OOB veteran Kevin Osborne, Troy officially opens Feb. 4.
Coincidentally, playing Philoctetes is Jolie Garrett, a black man who recently starred in Cocteau Rep's staging of the contemporary drama, Sus.
In The Cure at Troy, Philoctetes, cursed with a wound that gives off an offensive stench, has been exiled to an island. Now, however, Odysseus, the very Greek who exiled him, needs Philoctetes' magic archery bow. The Greeks must convince an understandably bitter Philoctetes to return with them and lead them to victorious battle. Heaney has called Troy a "version" of Philoctetes, rather than an adaptation or translation.
Heaney was born in 1939 in Country Derry, Northern Ireland. In 1984, he was elected the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard, and served for two years as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. His works include 11 books of poetry, 2 books of criticism, and one play: The Cure at Troy . Starring in Troy are Jolie Garrett (Philoctetes), Andrew Elvis Miller and Ian Oldaker, with Sue Berch, Karla Hendrick and Margot White comprising the chorus. Designing the show are Roman Tatarowicz (set and lighting), Fang-Yi Tseng (costumes) and Nick Fritsch & Vivian Stoll (sound).
According to spokesperson Jim Baldassare, the Blue Heron company, founded in 1987, defines itself as "a thinking person's theatre" devoted to "human values of thought, feeling and imagination."
For tickets ($19) and information on The Cure at Troy at the Blue Heron Arts Center, 123 East 24th Street, call (212) 979-5000, ext. 18.
-- By David Lefkowitz