Guess Who is Going to Die Tonight

Reviewer's Rating

Creating a gripping play in which strategy, suspense and surprise are key elements is definitely not an easy thing to do. In practice, only a few playwrights have managed to create intricately plotted plays, with unexpected turns and clever reversals, French writer Robert Thomas (1930-1989) being one of them. His  Piège pour un homme seul (Trap for a Lonely Man), which has become a success since its premiere in Paris in 1960, is a psychological thriller with detective story elements and a distinct scent of comedy.

In his play, Daniel Corban reports that his wife of three months, Elizabeth, has disappeared. A priest arrives, bringing Elizabeth with him; Corban insists that this woman is not his wife. All the evidence is against the distraught husband, who desperately tries to convince the inspector that a plot is woven against him; what is not discernible in the play though, is who’s the one weaving the plot.

The play is staged under the title “Guess who is Going to Die Tonight”. Michalis Reppas and Thanassis Papathanassiou have written an adaptation rather than a translation of the original play. Interfering with the characters, they replace Daniel Corban with Catherine Clement, a newly married woman who’s looking for her disappeared husband, Philip, while Father Maximin is replaced with Mrs. Nantin Preveaux, the priest’s wife. This reversal of roles is probably meant to suit the cast, offering Katia Dandoulaki the leading role. Additionally, Francois Godard – the dissatisfied client of Mrs. Clement’s missing husband – has replaced Merluche, the wandering artist of the original.

The adaptation is effective if the aim was to create a relaxed production suitable for a relaxed night out, but not more than that. The writers/ directors seem to choose the safe way: an easily digestible show, conventional staging, starring actors and actresses very well known to a wider public as they have repeatedly appeared on Greek TV. Of course a psychological thriller or a detective story is not exactly the kind of play most suitable for experimental staging, its effectiveness lying mostly in the creation of suspense. In this respect, the production could be seen as rather successful.

The beginning of the show is quite slow paced and often boring; Pantelis Kanarakis in the role of Francois Godard is the actor who considerably livens up the play and is probably the best actor throughout. Building a funny scene around a gay character’s verbal andnonverbal language(as is the case with Godard here) is not something new to the Greek stage. It often seems like a cheap trick, though, betraying lack of original ideas or sloppiness – especially here where the scene with Merluche is virtually rewritten. At least it works. Katia Dandoulaki and Aggelos Antonopoulos in the leading roles are not bad, but somehow they lack the spark that would make their roles memorable, probably because their acting is so close to what we have so frequently seen them playing on TV. The astonishing denouement of the play, long expected and effectively presented onstage, comes both as a surprise and a relief.

Η συγγραφή ενός αστυνομικού θρίλερ για το θέατρο που να συνδυάζει με επιτυχία τη στρατηγική, το σασπένς και την ανατροπή σίγουρα δεν είναι εύκολη. Το έργο του Γάλλου συγγραφέα Ρομπέρ Τομά Η Παγίδα (Piège pour un homme seulείναι από τις λίγες επιτυχείς εξαιρέσεις.

Στην παράσταση με τίτλο Μάντεψε Ποιος Θα Πεθάνει Απόψε σε διασκευή και σκηνοθεσία των Μ. Ρέππα και Θ. Παπαθανασίου, οι κεντρικοί ρόλοι αντιστρέφονται. Εδώ, σε αντίθεση με το πρωτότυπο, η σύζυγος είναι αυτή που δηλώνει την εξαφάνιση του άντρα της και αυτή είναι που βρίσκεται στη δεινή θέση να αποδείξει την αλήθεια των ισχυρισμών της.

Το γνωστό θεατρικό δίδυμο δημιουργεί μια παράσταση εύπεπτη, ιδανική για μια χαλαρή βραδινή έξοδο, αλλά όχι κάτι περισσότερο από αυτό. Άλλωστε, τα ψυχολογικά θρίλερ ή οι αστυνομικές ιστορίες δεν προσφέρονται ιδιαίτερα για θεατρικούς πειραματισμούς.

Ο ρυθμός του έργου είναι αργός στην αρχή και κάποτε βαρετός. Η Κάτια Δανδουλάκη και ο Άγγελος Αντωνόπουλος στους κεντρικούς ρόλους δεν καταφέρνουν να ξεφύγουν από την πεπατημένη των τηλεοπτικών τους εμφανίσεων και να κάνουν τη διαφορά. Ώθηση στο έργο δίνει ο Παντελής Καναράκης, ο οποίος δημιουργεί μια ιδιαίτερα χιουμοριστική σκηνή ως πελάτης του αρχιτέκτονα (αγνοούμενου) συζύγου.

Η ομολογουμένως μη αναμενόμενη λύση του μυστηρίου αποδίδεται με επιτυχία από το θίασο και το κοινό αποχωρεί τόσο έκπληκτο όσο και ανακουφισμένο.