“Profit”, “take”, “dollars”, “consume”, “capacity”, “interest”, “buy”, “credit”, “stock”, “takes” “buy”, “sell”; in Theodoros Terzopoulos’ new production there is no script in the conventional sense of the word. There are not even full sentences, just a frenetic, unstoppable sequence of numbers occasionally interrupted by words, in English and in Greek, again directly related to and dependent on numbers.
Theodoros Terzopoulos is an acclaimed theatre director whose pioneering work challenges the traditional theatrical norms and stereotypes; his theatrical language is sophisticated, thought provoking and – at the same time – accessible. His new play, staged at his theatre ‘Attis’, was devised in collaboration with young actor Thanassis Alevras, who wrote the script.
The play features two characters – a man and a woman – nameless and almost immobilized. The two people never physically meet, never touch, they do not even look at each other. They only get joy through the man’s frenetic calculations of their wealth that increases as the time goes by. Their wealth is accumulated as the woman literally sells everything that constitutes her identity: her passions, her tears, her heart, her eyes, her lips, her memories, her dreams, her organs. As she sells herself out, the man – typing with his fingers in a frenzy – calculates in delight the ever increasing value of the merchandise.
The accumulation of wealth as the utmost source of joy – even at the price of one’s soul – is not unknown in the (post) golden boys era. The two people are not united in life and death but in profits and losses, a cohabitation western world audiences would be familiar with. But is it accumulation of wealth, or simply survival?
“Here, on the theatre stage, at the bottom of Europe, I sell everything“, the woman whispers defeated. Selling everything out may not then be a choice, but a need in these years of recession that have left behind only shattered lives. In the name of the economy, goods and memories and identities are sold and people’s lives are haunted by the presence or the absence of money. Capitalism, consumerism and politics applied by governments and financial institutions have affected and eroded even human relationships, turning people into calculators and cynical sellers of themselves and their kin. Is there a way out of this nightmare? Terzopoulos’ answer is ‘yes’. Amor.
Love is an act of resistance – the only act of resistance – against the leveling and dehumanizing power of money; it is the way out the male character is looking for at the end of the play. “Here, on the theatre stage, at the bottom of Europe. Amor”, he screams, as the play reaches its end.
Myriagos and Pappa are both passionate and extremely accurate in the delivery both of the verbal and the very powerful non verbal language of the play, acting with every fiber of their being. After all, the actor’s body plays a primal role in Terzopoulos’ theatre, it does not serve the words, it works parallel to and independently of them. Myriagos looks like a mime or a stage magician, or even a clown towards the end of the play, dressed in a manager’s suit – a figure almost comic in its tragedy. Pappa, immobilized for most of the play like Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days, is very subtle in her transitions from delight, to bewilderment, to bitterness, to surprise, to fierceness, to defeat.
All in all, a well orchestrated play, a meticulous piece of theatre, consistent to Terzopoulos’ high standards.