Heinrich Schliemann is hardly a household name, but upon seeing “The Man Who Found Troy,” by award-winning playwright, Joseph Krawczyk, you have to wonder why this fascinating story has not drawn more attention. Krawczyk, who travelled to Greece on vacation, came across the story of this German explorer and archeologists of sorts who in many ways resembles a true Indiana Jones, and brings the story to life with humor, adventure, and the sort of story telling that makes for a truly enjoyable theatre experience. With excellent direction by Eddie Lew, standout performances by this talented cast of three actors playing dual roles, and a simple set that makes great use of a relatively large playing area, the story of Schliemann comes to life and draws you in from the start.
Heinrich Schliemann was hardly a respected figure in archeological circles, when through some conniving and con-artistry, he sets to find the mythical city of Troy in turn of the century Turkey. A wealthy man, he travels to Greece, where he falls in love with a very bright young woman thirty years younger than him. She is 17 and he is 47. They marry, and soon after join forces to discover the true location of the famed ancient city. For the most part, Heinrich (Henry) treats the girl more like a student than a wife, but they soon become a formidable team that manages to accomplish what few have been able to do. By enlisting the help of a partner in Turkey, Frank Calvert, the journey begins, not without many bumps, betrayals, and conflicts along the way.
As Schliemann, actor Johnny Blaze Leavitt, beautifully brings the character to life. He is in top form, injecting humor and pathos, and expressively bringing Henry’s passion, drive and determination to fruition. As his lovely young bride, Sophia, Chelsea Clark is rock solid, offering us a glimpse at a woman who matured from an enthusiastic, smart, and charming young girl to the woman who helped keep Henry on course, even when his drive led to bad decisions and the destruction of some archeological artifacts along the way. As Frank Calvert, Stephen Goodin is equally excellent and believable as Henry’s partner and moral compass.
The production, which is produced by James Jennings and The American Theatre of Actors, plays at the John Cullum Off Broadway space, and utilizes every inch of the large venue perfectly. Under the clever and cleanly staged direction of Eddie Lew, the play flows beautifully through the story, transplanting us from one exotic location to the next. Lighting and sound, for the lack of any elaborate sets, work wonders.
This is a story that merits more exposure. Krawczyk has done a wonderful job in taking several decades, including injecting some historical figures like Helen of Troy, into the almost 2 hour play The dialogue, the pacing, and the story all come to life in perfect synchronization. You will absolutely enjoy it.
Tickets are still available for the final weekend ending Sunday at Smarttix (click HERE), at the door (cash only) and on TDF.