A Stranger in A Strange Land — The Retelling of an “Epic Fail”

By Ernest Kearney  — Epics tend to be about champions, giant defeaters, kingdom conquerors, warriors of a thousand battles.  But seldom do you find, as the central figure, some poor sod who gets drunk one night and falls asleep on a rooftop, only to wake up the next morning and — forgetting where he is — absent-mindedly walks off the edge; breaking his neck.

But that is the tale of Elpenor, the youngest and dopiest member of Odysseus.

You have to hand it to Elpenor though; for a twit who breaks his neck falling off a roof in Homer’s great narrative, he’s provided a good many writers with inspiration.

Archibald McLeish wrote a poem about him, James Joyce based a character on him in his Ulysses, and the French author Jean Giraudoux employed him as the main character in his humorous parody of the Greek epic Elpénor.

 Now Jordan Rountree has placed Elpenor as the focus of his solo show Epic Fail.

Rountree places Elpenor in a modern context; dressed in a ghillie suit he shares the stage with an ice chest, lite beer, and electronic music.

His Elpenor doesn’t really fit into an epic narration, any more than thousands of young reservists feel they belong in this country’s great national adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rountree’s piece while highly entertaining, has a swift undercurrent of sorrow to it.

Rountree’s Elpenor is a sweet, if dim-witted soul, who seems desperate to break free of the heroic quest he’s on to return to his job at his home town’s local filling station.

Fringe Award-Gold Medal-The TVolutionOne aches for him, as he seems as oblivious to his approaching doom as a deer on a darkened road, mesmerized by those bright white circles that seem to be growing bigger and bigger.

For an imaginative reworking of a classic and an intense committed performance, a GOLD MEDAL.


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Epic Fail

Is Playing During the Hollywood Fringe 2018 at

The Broadwater

6322 Santa Monica Blvd.

For Show Information, Tickets and Reservations Go To


What is Hollywood Fringe 2018? Click HERE to learn more.

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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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