Best Play

Highway Ulysses, Dobama Theatre

Employing a fierce theatrical imagination, this update of Homer's epic poem traced the path of a Vietnam vet trying to reconnect with his son after the death of the soldier's estranged wife. Playwright and composer Rinde Eckert employed a hypnotic sampling of operatic music, atonal measures, and recitative to convey the effect war has on a man's soul. Far from an arch intellectual exercise, this production - directed by Sonya Robbins at Dobama last November - throbbed with passion and also produced some much-needed laughter, relieving the somber subject matter. As Ulysses, Paul Floriano created a caved-in shell of the character's former self as he dealt with the wartime pain he caused. The sustained impact culminated in a stunning ending, when Ulysses' son emerged, wearing a soldier's helmet and carrying a gun. The combination of innovative musical elements and sharp characterizations resonated, especially at a time when our country is engaged in yet another military enterprise abroad.