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Quebec playwright Kemeid’s play, now having its English-language debut at the Stratford Festival, may have premiered almost a decade ago and inspired by a poem over two thousands years old, but its tale of terror and exile feels almost too timely…Rodrigo Beilfuss’s performance here – straightforward, earnest – flattened me with its unspoken pain.
A modern retelling of Virgil’s epic poem, The Aeneid follows Aeneas, played by an expressive Gareth Potter, as he leads a small group of exiles from their occupied homeland to the promise of a new country. While Virgil’s original poem began with the fall of Troy, Kemeid’s The Aeneid deliberately leaves the country and the people unnamed…When the Stratford Festival commissioned this special translation of Kemeid’s play by Maureen Labonte, the plight of the Syrian refugees had yet to make worldwide headlines, adding to the timeliness and, sadly, timelessness of this production.
The ensemble embraces the challenges of the production’s character- and situation-swapping with passion and professionalism…But their creative commitment is eclipsed by an overall approach to production that doesn’t really confront the central challenges proposed by the text and endorses, rather than questions, the societal status quo.