"Measuring Odysseus s success with women"
Dimitris Maronitis’s adaptation and Loukia Rikaki’s staging of ‘Dialogues with Odysseus’ prove elegant and stimulating.
Ιn an interview with Kathimerini's Vassilis Angelikopoulos last week, Dimitris Maronitis sought to fend off potential criticism of director Loukia Rikaki's ambitious, and daring, production of “Dialogues with Odysseus." As an integral part of the performance, he made an almost plaintive observation that such experiments with the classics should be reviewed with the distance afforded only by time. The uncharacteristic nervousness implicit in this appeal was probably ‘the result of the vitriolic reviews drawn this summer by avant-garde director Michail Marniarinos's “mutation," as one critic described it, of Sophocles’s "Electra.” Maronitis should have had more confidence» in the project: for both his adaptation of passages from Homer’s epic and Rikaki’s staging were at once elegant and refreshing, u proper homage to such a wieldy work.
Ironically, if there was a Haw in the performance it was Maronitis’s decision to play the part of the narrator himself · a decision that, slowed the work as his voice is simply too fiat for such a role and bis recitation faltering enough to border on intrusiveness.
“Dialogues with Odysseus" distills Homer’s 24 books into roughly live scenes, each one honing in the hero’s relationship with various women during his 10 years of wanderings before finally returning home - a punishment meted by the gods Athena, Poseidon and Helios. It is an interesting study, juxtaposing Penelope’s fidelity against, an
Odysseus, who in seeking the road back to the marital bed, adds a new, in i literal nuance to (lie word "wanderlust."
Maronitis’s text is one of the main reasons this performance works. Neither heavy nor didactic, it has a contemporary cadence l luit nonetheless does justice to Homer's poetic muter. (Of course if anyone knows Homer, that person is Maronitis who is continuing his translation of the Odyssey.» The other cause for success was Rikaki’s direction and casting. The match between the physical features of each actress and the metaphysical associations of their respective roles - wife, mother, virgin, sorceress - is too punctilious to he happenstance. Evrycleia Sofroniadoti, as the exotic beauty Calypso, Katerinu Lypiridou, per- haps the most engaging Nausica to grace the stage, and Matina Moschovi, delightful as the mesmerizing Circe, are all actresses on whose careers discerning audiences should keep careful watch.
Odysseus, ably played by Constantine Konstantopoulos, a graduate of the National Theater whose screen credits include Theo Angelopoulos’s “Beekeeper," at first seems bland but acquires luster as his character develops.
The performance opens with Odysseus sitting on the shore of Ogygia, weeping and longing for home. The details of his circumstances are filled in by the narrator who often engages the characters oil stage. His recitations are punctuated by music, while between scenes, Mala liaisonli performs short arias based on music by Dimitris Kamaratos - an appearance that starts out seeming superfluous but which becomes an integral part of the drama by its end.
Rikaki’s cinematic experience is evident in her direction. Finding herself confined to a single set, she has deployed lighting (Argyris Theos) and movement (Kyriakos Cosmides) to infuse the performance with action. The focus on this form of expression is sharpened by the starkness of the sets and simplicity of the women’s sheer, flowing costumes that highlight the subtle movements.
“Dialogues with Odysseus" was developed by the Athens Concert Hail as a tie-in to its coproduction of Claudio Monteverdi’s opera “II Ritorni d’Ulisso in Patria," which opened the season. The performance stands on its own merit as a piece of contemporary theater · the kind which audiences outside Athens and outside Greece certainly deserve to see if' only as proof that the modern Greeks haven’t lost their touch when it comes to classical theater.
“Dialogues with Odysseus." Tickets at 8,000 and 5,000 drachmas; final performance this evening. Athens Concert Hall, tel 728.2333
By Diane Shugart