Oh, Democracy! Theatro Technis 27 February


This was a musical adaptation of The Knights by Aristophanes, of which the original would have been pretty musical anyway.  There is a useful plot summary on Wikipedia–in brief, the People (Demos, an elderly householder) have been taken in by the Paphlagonian Slave (Athenian politician Cleon) and an even more shameless scoundrel–in the form of the Sausage Seller–is needed to save the day.

When I arrived, director George Eugeniou was telling someone that the previous evening’s first night had been something like a dress rehearsal; this was like being present at a workshop and only just managing to avoid taking part on occasions.  The audience were equal in number to the cast, and contained a certain number of claqueurs or at least people who hoped to appear in the show on a future occasion.

The idea of the production was that Europa was dominated by Paphlagoune, who had managed to hoodwink Demos (the people).  The advantage of this was that George Eugeniou could use actors who were not native English speakers without the usual incongruity, while the disadvantage was the lack of hatred and obscene innuendo directed at recognisable targets.   Indeed we Brits have the great advantage over our fellow Europeans that our leaders continue to engage in foreign wars out of cowardice and venality, a good Aristophanic theme that could not be used here.

I suppose it was all rather too genteel:  Marco Aponte was hardly shameless (more of your Italian diamond geezer) as the Sausage-Seller, while Jackie Skarvellis was a muted Cruella De Ville as Paphlagoune.  At least the fart jokes survived, and also provided the best of the song-and-dance numbers–in fact, I enjoyed those, even though the words could not always be distinguished.  And some of the bathetic contrast between fine words and the homely comforts  sufficient to win the heart of Demos worked as well.

Ellen Patterson impressed in the chorus–she could sing and dance, as well as looking pretty.

So why did I enjoy this?  I suppose it was the that workshop thing, the feeling We’re all in this together as someone once tried to claim.

See here for what I know of other Greek plays in London.

Later:  It took me 3 days to work out the Brexit joke (like Grexit–Greece leaving the Euro) and another two to decide it was daft since we’re not in the Euro.

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