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Homer's hot: Broad Stage drama now, Dan Stevens audio book later

Homer's hot: Broad Stage drama now, Dan Stevens audio book later
Dan Stevens during 2012 filming of `Downton Abbey.' His character dead in a car wreck, the actor has moved on to other things -- including being the reader for a coming audio book of `The Iliad' and `The Odyssey.' (Matthew Lloyd\For the Times)

Homer, whose epic poems rank with King David's psalms among the longest-running items in heavy rotation on Western civilization's hit parade, keeps making news 2,600-plus years after his initial fame.

First up is word that actor Dan Stevens recently has immersed himself in the ancient Greek bard since leaving "Downton Abbey" after his character, heir-to-the-manor Matthew Crawley, had a fatal car wreck in a 2013 episode of the PBS series. It was no tragedy for Stevens, who pretty much forced that plot turn by declaring he was leaving the show.

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Macmillan Audio has announced that Stevens' audio book recording of Robert Fitzgerald's early 1960s English translations of the "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" is in the can and set for an August release.

For those who want visuals with their Homer and don't care to rent "Troy," the so-so 2004 film adaptation of "The Iliad" starring Brad Pitt as Achilles, there's "An Iliad," opening Wednesday at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

It's actor Denis O'Hare's 100-minute solo telling of "The Iliad." Robert Fagles' 1990 translation accounts for about a third of the lines; the rest is riffs in contemporary American vernacular that O'Hare and his director and co-author, Lisa Peterson, devised to lend contemporary relevance and urgency to Homer's epic account of the Trojan War.

The show, which includes live accompaniment by an onstage bassist, won a special Obie Awards citation in 2012, for a New York City production in which O’Hare and former “Angels in America” star Stephen Spinella performed on alternate nights. Henry Woronicz played the show’s storyteller in the play's 2012 Southern California premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse.

"An Iliad" marks the L.A. stage debut of O'Hare, who won a 2003 Tony Award playing a meek accountant who becomes enthralled with baseball in Richard Greenberg's "Take Me Out."

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