Mishaps, Perhaps

The absurd, in its strongest and absolute form, enters stage left and does not scare. On the contrary, it transports the audience in an easier world where all knots come loose, placing us right in the middle of great comic theatre – a joyful ode to liberation and happy existence.

 

Greek Abstract

Ο παράλογος, στην ισχυρότερη και απόλυτη μορφή του, εισέρχεται στη σκηνή και δεν φοβίζει. Αντίθετα, μεταφέρει το κοινό σε έναν ευκολότερο κόσμο όπου όλοι οι κόμβοι λύνονται, τοποθετώντας μας ακριβώς στη μέση του μεγάλου κωμικού θεάτρου – μια χαρούμενη ωδή στην απελευθέρωση και την περιχαρή ύπαρξη.

[riduci]
Italian Abstract

L’assurdo nella sua forza più piena ed assoluta entra sul palcoscenico e non spaventa. Anzi ci trasporta in un mondo più facile, in cui tutti i nodi si sciolgono e infine ci trascina nell’empireo del grande teatro comico che è tutto un inno gioioso di liberazione e di felicità di esistere.

[riduci]

 

As Giorgio Strehler used to say, Goldoni’s commedie dell’arte were capable of transforming reality into inimitable poetry, a lyrical shiver of love that went beyond comical and ridicule clichés, showing with tenderness all the lights and shadows of the human soul. These were the main reasons that led the late Italian director to re-discover and re-interpret the 1746 canovaccio The Servant of two Masters, and these seems to be the reasons that led Greek director Michalis Sionas to do just the same today. Unlike Strehler, who focused mainly on the figure of the actor and his/her communicative power on the scene, on the rhythm of the lines and on Theatre tout court, without any actual rewriting of the play (albeit striving to give a realistic mark to the century-old representation), Sionas chooses to represent the mishaps of penniless and ravenous Truffaldino both in the flesh and the word.

On the strength of the modern and fluid translation by Errikos Belies, the Greek director presents a cheerful, naïf Arlecchino whose gymnastic talents overcome the limitations of the mask, which is the first element to drop in this re-visitation of a classic of the theatre worldwide. Indeed, the acrobatic thrust of the whole cast adds to the glee of the commedia, already magnified by both the presence of a real-time, slapstick soundtrack performed forestage by Alexandros Ioannou and the acoustic exacerbation of the main character’s hunger: «There is a sound coming out from the navel, sometimes either from its right or left side, or a little bit lower. A sound that when we hear it, we put our hand on our belly as if we want to stop it in a sudden way but never on time. It is a sound that doesn’t take into account how serious a conversation or situation may be and many times it chooses the worst moment to make its presence felt, during pauses and breaks. What an unbelievable sound! Because of it, you may get into trouble, misunderstandings, funny situations or any kind of mess. For the person who is hungry, the worst thing is that this sound is still there even though no one else can hear it. Maybe, The Servant of Two Masters is exactly this sound; this kind of rumbling in your stomach».

The illusion of improvisation that began with Strehler’s metatheatrical take on Goldoni’s masterpiece continues also in Sionas adaptation where, were it not for the surtitles, one could be easily tricked into thinking that the flabbergasting interpretation of the whole cast was the by-product of a larger-than-life talent on behalf of these brilliant performers. Indeed, the only defect of form in this otherwise lovely two-hours long play is the strained and far-fetched connection between Goldoni’s Illuminist philosophy of “common sense” – which tackles practical problems of civil life striving for the common good, highlighting a strong sense of sociality – and a pseudo-communist/socialist sermonizing of the working class represented then by the Italian playwright as emancipated men and women (sic!) who achieve themselves through their productive activities and now by Greek director as the only factor that makes masters what they are («without us, “masters” is but an empty word», says the teacher to her unaware student), thus re-writing Goldoni’s moderate reform (which still respected the hierarchic order of his society) for a more radical social and political one, which, en passant, sacrifices a fluidity of rhythm for a didactic capriccio.

The show is still playing at
Theatre of the Society for Macedonian Studies
Ethnikis Aminis 2 – Thessaloniki
Wednesday at 18.00
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 21.00
Sunday at 20.00

The National Theatre of Northern Greece presents
The Servant of Two Masters – Υπηρέτης δύο Αφεντάδων
by Carlo Goldoni

translation Errikos Belies
adaptation-direction Michalis Sionas
sets-costumes Giannis Katranitsas
music Alexandros Ioannou
movement Edgen Lame
lighting Jörg Schuchardt
masks Martha Foka
assistant directors Stavroula Koulouri, Eftychia Spyridaki
assistant set designer Eleni Kanakidou
production photography Tasos Thomoglou
production coordinator Marleen Verschuuren
cast Christos Diamantoudis, Giorgos Dimitriadis, Thanasis Dislis, Eirini Kyriakou, Georgia Kyriazi, Nikos Ortetzatos, Timos Papadopoulos, Thanasis Raftopoulos, Tasos Rodovitis, Anna Sotiroudi: Beatrice, Giannis Tseberlidis, Anni Tsolakidou, Lila Vlachopoulou, Fani Xenoudaki, Stefania Zora
musician on stage Alexandros Ioannou

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