Ajax in Iraq Review Round-Up

(Photo: Isaiah Tanenbaum. Pictured: Tiffany Clementi, Lori E. Parquet)
Yikes! The show’s been closed for half a week and I still haven’t posted responses to most of the reviews. Rather than getting stuck in yesterday, I’m going to round up all those I missed here and now. It doesn’t quite do justice to the thoughtful and often moving reviews we received, but time is moving faster than ever.
What follows are links, favorite quotes, and quick thoughts.
Helen Shaw, Time Out New York: “There is genuine fear, anger and ecstasy in these characters. Real sweat trickles down their faces; real flies circle over them.”
(There were more flies than usual that night due to the food-based blood, our most brilliant accidental design decision). I was mostly just thrilled that Helen came back for another round after Dog Act, and wish only she had more of a word count to go into more detail, especially about choices that teetered on bad taste. With only a single preview, there are many choices I wish I’d had more time to finesse – or reimagine completely – based on what I learned from audiences.
Anita Gates, New York Times: “The Flux Theatre Ensemble’s fervent and valiant production of Ms. McLaughlin’s sophisticated “Ajax in Iraq” makes its case in two ways.”
As much as I might like to pretend this review didn’t mean the world to us, it meant something approaching its circumference. Fervent and valiant…those words in particular still put a smile on my face, because they touch on the passion this extraordinary cast brought to the play every single night. And the audiences that this review brought in were essential, though they were not enough to overcome a particularly tough second week. We fell short of our goal, and of our numbers for Dog Act (more on those disappointing numbers in another post).
Michael Roderick, BroadwayWorld.com: “Flux consistently raises the bar when it comes to Indie Theatre and this piece has put that bar somewhere in the sky. An explosive 90 minutes with no intermission, Ajax in Iraq will live on in the minds and hearts of its audiences long after its all to short run.”
For me, this was the most moving of our reviews, coming as it did from the amazing producer and director Michael Roderick. I especially appreciate that he noticed the chair slams and grains of sand; we did indeed sweat every single detail.
Leigh Hile, Scenes in the City: “With haunting eloquence, Ajax in Iraq somehow links past and present, tormentor and tormented, and pulls us from our comfortable chairs a little closer to the sting of the desert and the terror of battle. You’ll leave rattled a little and questioning a lot.”
Leigh is not only a theatre blogger, but a director who has worked with us at Flux Sundays and our last Have Another. I admire what I’ve seen of her work, and find her a particularly eloquent blogger. Her thoughts about the play’s structure are well worth the read.
There’s a lot more to talk about regarding this play, but with my late lunch rapidly dwindling, I leave you with one last plea to vote for the play and artists for the New York Innovative Theater Awards.
Thank you from all of us Flux to everyone who saw Ajax in Iraq, and everyone who made it possible. We are deeply grateful to have had the chance to share this play with you.

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