Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


Warplay
New Conservatory Theatre Center
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's review of George M! and Richard's reviews of Grandeur, Roman Holiday and Kismet


Ed Berkeley and JD Scalzo
Photo by Lois Tema
New Conservatory Theatre Center is presenting the world premiere of JC Lee's Warplay with a stunning cast of only two actors, Ed Berkeley and JD Scalzo. It sounds like a video game, but this is a shockingly humorous, lyrical and radical reimagining of one of the oldest love stories in all of Western literature: Achilles and Patroclus of Homer's "The Iliad."

To refresh your memory, Achilles and Patroclus were close comrades in the fight against the Trojans. According to JC Lee, and I agree, the couple were lovers. Achilles is the hero and Patroclus is trying to be a hero like him. However, Achilles is as uncaring and egotistical toward others as he is with Patroclus. Achilles wants to protect the weaker Patroclus and he is afraid to admit his love for him.

Achilles chooses not to participate in a battle against the Trojans because King Agamemnon has dishonored him. Patroclus convinces Achilles by subterfuge to let him lead the Myrmidon army into the battle. Patroclus, wearing Achilles's armor and shield, succeeds in beating back the Trojan forces. Patroclus is killed in battle by Hector. News of Patroclus' death reaches Achilles and he is thrown into deep grief.

The play goes from their childhood when they played childish games and progresses into their adulthood and on to the last scene where Achilles sees Patroclus after death. All this is displayed in 70 minutes over seven scenes.

JC Lee chose to put a modern-day spin on the tale. His dialogue is clever and effervescent with modern talk. It's a give and take battle between the two men like two lovers.

As Achilles, Ed Berkeley is all masculine and he is determined to attain prominence in the war against the Trojans. JD Scalzo's Patroclus is the exact opposite, apprehensive, inquisitive and fearful. Both actors are outstanding in their roles and they display good chemistry together. Ben Randle directs with style and gets the best out of the two brilliant actors.

Warplay plays through July 2, 2017, at the Walker Theatre in the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave. off Market Street, San Francisco. Tickets can be obtained by calling 415-861-8972 or online at www.nctcsf.org. Coming up next at New Conservatory Theatre Center is At the Hop performed by the NCTC summer teen ensemble from July 19 through July 22. In September another world premiere, Harrison David River's This Bitter Earth, runs September 22 through October 22.


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