I was waiting to hear what the English poet Christopher Logue had done to the Iliad, and I was worried. The omens, threatening an evening of eat-your-greens earnestness, would have troubled the most phlegmatic of soothsayers. As for the theater in which I found myself, it was more depressing than Ford’s after Booth. A long way off Broadway in all but the most geographical sense, it was a hard-seat hall a few minutes’ walk from those now-vanished towers. The only thing emptier than the bleak, Beckett-bare stage was an auditorium begging for tumbleweed. We had been told that the entire cast (the performance was a dramatization of some of Logue’s verse) would number exactly three: three actresses, to be precise.

The plains of Troy. The end of a long siege. Great armies clash. Achilles. Ajax. Hector. New York City. Three girls. T-shirts. No armor. Not a chariot in sight. An evening, I...

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