ITHAKA Review - A Powerful Performance

The ancient story never grows old. Soldiers return from war, yet struggle to find the way home. Troy, Afghanistan – it is all the same, but unique as each one fights their own demons.


Odysseus (Andrew L. Saenz) opens ITHAKA; alone on stage, he is in the court of King Alcinous just before he tells the story of the Trojan War, but to us he says the true story of war is not something that can be told or that listeners want to hear. ITHAKA is a straightforward story we have seen and heard for thousands of years, yet the audience was riveted by the fast pace, the movement into and out of the past, and dream sequences made real by video projections.


InFusion Theatre’s production of ITHAKA mixes the video projections, a roller coaster, and a talking cat to reveal the complex story of Marine Captain Elaine (Lanie) Edwards (Meredith Rae Lyons in a powerful performance) who has just returned from her latest tour in Afghanistan. However, everything seems different this time. Her home doesn’t feel right and nothing is making sense. After an argument with her husband, Lanie leaves and undertakes an Odyssean journey through the American landscape battling her monsters, trying to find her way home.


Lanie is joined on her journey by Evie (Anji White in another distinctive performance), Lanie’s driver in Afghanistan and good friend. Lanie’s husband Bill (Nick Freed) is frustrated and helpless; there seems to be nothing he can do for Lanie since she won’t/can’t tell her story as she deals with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the difficulties of getting used to mundane everyday life, and, most of all, being alive and whole when so many others have died or been maimed.


Additional ITHAKA cast includes TinseyRose Torres.


In Portland, Oregon, in the fall of 2011, playwright Andrea Stolowitz was awarded the Fowler/Levin Prize for the concept of ITHAKA, as well as the Artists Repertory Theater’s $25,000 New Play Commission. While she draws the play from interviews with veterans and their families, Stolowitz said “Once I realized that I was dealing with the structure of the Odyssey, that it was about someone’s journey home, it gave me permission to make the play and the characters travel. It became a physical journey as well as an emotional and mental journey.” 


InFusion Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of ITHAKA directed by InFusion Artistic Director Mitch Golob at The Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division Avenue March 12 – April 13. Performances are Thursdays to Saturdays at 7:30 p.m and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors. Tickets are on sale at Infusions Theatre website or by calling 800.838.3006.


*Special offer for friends of InFusion: We are offering 20% off if you purchase at least 2 days before the performance you attend.  $25 tickets are only $20 each.  Why pay more at the door?


Photos by Cole Simon



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