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As The Poet (Homer) in “An Iliad,” Ray Dooley Adds a New Laurel to His Acting Crown: Storyteller Supreme

Ray Dooley stars as The Poet, who spins a spellbinding yarn of love and war in “An Iliad” for six shows Sept. 5-9 at PlayMakers Repertory Company (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Ray Dooley stars as The Poet, who spins a spellbinding yarn of love and war in “An Iliad” for six shows Sept. 5-9 at PlayMakers Repertory Company (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Already one of the brightest stars in the PlayMakers Repertory Company firmament — and arguably the Triangle’s finest actor — Ray Dooley proves to be a Storyteller Supreme as The Poet (i.e., a distraught and disheveled Homer in modern dress) in the rousing PRC2 second-stage production of An Iliad, now sparkling on scenic designer scenic and costume designer Marion Williams’ minimalistic set in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Dramatic Art.

From the moment that the shell-shocked Poet stumbles onto the stark Kenan Theatre set, which resembles a dusty construction site, complete with scaffolds and stained plywood walls, to the final word that he spoke during Wednesday night’s performance, Ray Dooley held the audience spellbound with his juicy snippets of stories from the Trojan War (circa 1260-1240 B.C.). Achilles, his great friend Patroclus, and their mortal enemy Hector strutted and fretted once again on the battlefields that would become saturated with their blood and that are today still haunted by the anguished spirits of the thousands of Greeks and Trojans who feel there during the siege of Troy.

Ray Dooley and first-time PlayMakers guest director Jesse Berger of New York City conjure up powerful theatrical magic together while polishing all the dramatic and comic gems in Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s splendid script until they gleam, positively gleam. O’Hare and Peterson do not try to tell the whole story of the decade-long Trojan War, kiss by kiss, blow by blow, atrocity by atrocity. They pick a few key moments that will strike responsive chords with the audience, and inject unexpected but apt comparisons to modern conflicts.

Dooley’s modern dress — a shabby raincoat, blue jeans, and muddy brogans, topped by a battered fedora on the head of the itinerant Poet — underscore the timelessness of the lessons that The Iliad can still teach us. The PlayMakers Repertory Company presentation of An Iliad is theater at its finest. Don’t miss seeing PRC audience favorite Ray Dooley add another laurel — Storyteller Supreme — to his acting crown.

SECOND OPINION: Sept. 7th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Kate Dobbs Ariail (who awarded the show 5 out of 5 stars):; Sept. 5th Chapel Hill, NC Daily Tar Heel interview with Ray Dooley, conducted by Carson Blackwelder:; and Sept. 1st Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview:’-PRC2-season-opens-with-‘An-Iliad’ (Note: You may have to register to read this article). (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of Triangle Theater Review’s Sept. 3rd preview by Robert W. McDowell, click

PlayMakers Repertory Company presents AN ILIAD at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

TICKETS: $15-$40 ($10 UNC students and $12 other students).

BOX OFFICE: 919/962-PLAY or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/843-2311,, or


VIDEO PREVIEW: (interview with the playwrights, conducted by the the McCarter Theatre Center of Princeton, NJ).





NOTE: There will be FREE post-performance discussions with representatives of the show’s creative team, including designers, production staff, and/or actors, plus local experts on issues raised in the play.


The Play: (official website) and Iliad (Internet Off-Broadway Database).

Lisa Peterson: (American Theatre Wing).

Denis O’Hare: (official website) and’Hare (Wikipedia).

Jesse Berger: (Red Bull Theater).

Ray Dooley: (PlayMakers Repertory Company) and (Wikipedia).

The Iliad: (Wikipedia).

Homer: (Wikipedia).

Trojan War: (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click

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