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O’Hare is mesmerizing in ArtsEmerson’s ‘An Iliad’

Denis O’Hare (pictured performing last year in New York) stars in the ArtsEmerson production of “An Iliad.’’
Denis O’Hare (pictured performing last year in New York) stars in the ArtsEmerson production of “An Iliad.’’ Sara Krulwich/The New York Times/File

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The reluctant raconteur in “An Iliad” is played by Denis O’Hare, and the solo performance he proceeds to give is nothing short of mesmerizing.

“An Iliad,” crafted by O’Hare and Lisa Peterson from Robert Fagles’s translation of Homer’s epic poem, and presented by ArtsEmerson, is a starkly powerful experience that leaves you with not just a sense of the horror and absurdity of war, but also — and this part makes the heart sink — its inevitability.

Why? Because while O’Hare’s narrator vividly brings to life scenes from the Trojan War, especially the climactic battle between Achilles and Hector, the true subject of “An Iliad’’ is mankind’s ineradicable impulse toward violence, an unfathomable yet seemingly bottomless rage that spans eras and continents and cultures. No peace treaty that can fix that.

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