New year, new collaborations. The National Theatre of Northern Greece presents Hugh Leonard’s Da as seen by Dimosthenis Papadopoulos, nurturing great expectations (and great support by the Greek National Tourism Organization for the new English super-titling programme) for a «child’s song full of naivety. A child’s song that hurts us», but that does not leave a mark.
If there’s one thing that Oedipus thought us, is that we must kill our fathers in order to lay the foundations for something else, something new, something we can call our own. And if there’s something that we have failed to do, is to follow Oedipus’ example. The killing of a father (or a mother, as Electra would say), symbolises the piercing of the veil of physical and psychological dependence put up by our parents and the consequent discovery of factual and intellectual autonomy, especially when we refute their cultural and educational models, creating new ones. And there’s the rub.
Our fathers. A generation that never reached adulthood because, after dispensing with the parricide, failed to build something and, annihilated by its liberal and liberticidal “new model” – a crooked and unwholesome system of values where they act as our friends, ours sons and our grandfathers – is now unable to accept the fact that its physiological role is over. And it is right here, at the edge of a broken generational chain, that young people are forced either to remain kids or to miraculously jump ahead into a mature and adult life with no foundations and no values.
Dimosthenis Papadopoulos’ take on Hugh Leonard’s Da delves deeply into this conundrum of father-son relations, analysing with psychoanalytic-like tools the exact moment in which a deserting son, returning home to attend to his father’s funeral, is finally compelled to make the decision he had left on hold for so long: to close the curtain on his father or not to close it. On a bare scene with a cloudy yet soothing sky on the background, nine actors wait patiently for their turn in this backwards rediscovery of Daddy’s life, hidden in the bends of the «central character of the play», time. «Time doesn’t make us forget, it just helps us see the bigger picture», says one of the characters, indeed pointing out the leitmotif of the whole performance.
Hugh Leonard’s temporal catabasis in an Irish family of the 70s is, as Papadopoulos says in an interview to magazine Praxi, «determinant to every nationality», and easily fits with the Greek ethos, laden as it is with loving and tyrannical father figures that prove to be so difficult to force out from its modern society. And talking about father figures, the words that could describe the out-of-this-world representation of ageing performed by Kostas Santas are in scant supply. Through choral and soliloquist recollections, Santas is the axis around which guilt, remorse and rage revolve: as a «gardener in a place full of rocks», he represents salvation (when you’re 7) and damnation (when you’re 20), king and peer, future and past, all bound together and leading nowhere. The chances we get to despise him are plentiful, but the evolving interpretation, the tearful, blackmailing music and the direction that takes matters into its hands only toward the end of the play prevent us from truly closing that curtain and plunging the knife of independence in the heart of our slaver.
And that is why our fathers will never truly leave us, because we will never have the guts to let their stories go (too scared of creating our own) and will forever suffer in their shadow, beneath their image and according to their rules. And that is how innovation dies, both in life and in theatre.
The show is still playing
Foyer of the Theatre of the Society for Macedonian Studies (ΕΜΣ)
Ethnikis Amynis str. 2 – Thessaloniki
from 27 January to 15 April 2018
Wednesdays at 18.00
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 21.00
Sundays at 19.00
The National Theatre of Northern Greece presents
Da – Ντα
by Hugh Leonard
translation Dimosthenis Papadopoulos
dramaturgical advising Dimosthenis Papadopoulos
director Dimosthenis Papadopoulos
sets Stavros Litinas
costumes Ilenia Douladiri
music supervision Dimosthenis Papadopoulos
lighting Sakis Birmpilis
assistant director Stafania Vlahou
photographer Tasos Thomoglou
cast Kostas Santas, Nikos Kapelios, Dimitris Kotzias, Lilian Palantza, Anastasis Roilos, Christina-Artemis Papatriadafyllou, Dimitris Siakaras, Orestis Chalkias, Maria Chatzyioannidou