Spoleto Festival USA 2024’s highly anticipated world premiere, The Song of Rome, has drawn raves from critics and audiences alike.  The new play, co-written by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson, is a companion piece to An Iliad that was a Festival hit in 2023.  

The Song of Rome explores Virgil’s Aeneid and the fall of the democratic republic in ancient Rome. Toggling between past and present, the play illuminates power dynamics that feel as real and resonant today as two millenniums ago.  

Arts critic and writer for Culture South, Maura Hogan praised the production as “deftly crafted and superbly acted, …met[ing] out boatloads of history, but in a way that goes down remarkably easily. Time and again it illuminates how past and present inform one another, even if they don’t change outcomes.” 

Heidi Waleson, critic for The Wall Street Journal, called the play “striking” while praising the cast and creative team. 

“Actors Rachel Christopher and Hadi Tabbal switch easily among different roles in three perspectives on the story: Octavia, whose brother Augustus commissioned the Aeneid, discusses its creation with Virgil; Sheree, a contemporary college student who needs to cram Roman history, hires Azem, an undocumented Syrian, as her tutor; and the Girl and the Man (her assistant) uncover the epic through artmaking.” 

“Piles of books cover the stage (Rachel Hauck designed the set); Scott Zielinski’s lighting adeptly shifts between time periods; Mark Bennett’s pounding music goes along with the Girl as she explores the text with dancing and real-time video. Under Ms. Peterson’s astute direction, the two excellent actors established their different characters and time periods—even when slipping seamlessly from one to the other….” 

The last performance of The Song of Rome is Sunday, June 2 at 4:00pm. Get tickets here.