Thursday, October 25, 2012

Audience Feedback from Portland!

Dear Stefanos,

I apologize for being slow to send you my assessment of Helen. It is not from conscious neglect; I've been in Pennsylvania for military Reserve duty this month.

I may have mentioned to you, but certainly did to Eftychia, how much I enjoyed this production. I've seen Eftychia as an actress, playing Cassandra, a few years back. She has a presence that brings an emotional, multi-faceted approach to the parts she plays. When I saw Helen, and learned she was director, I could see her influence all over the production. It was as though she had been able to transfer all of her enegy and personality into each of the actors and actresses. A couple examples: The sneering, contemptuous Theoclymenus (played by Alexis Mouyiaris) was pitch perfect. He sauntered onto the stage with such dismissive body language for his character, oozing with malice. One immediately 
understood why Helen and the Chorus held him in such low regard but also fear. 

He projected danger to them from a man with the power to follow through. Alexis had really assumed the personna for that character, as Eftychia has done with her own roles. His portrayal is what the part required and Eftychia's studied direction ensured that's what came through. Leslie Fray, as Helen, brought all the emotional confusion, desperation, despair, and longing Helen would have felt after so many years waiting for her husband to rescue her after the war in Troy. Christian Barber, although he held small parts, made exceptional use of them, conveying authority and subserviance as appropriate to the situation. In turn, Nora Aislinn presented stunning visuals, as if she were a glorious statue assuming great earthly beauty. The play continued but ones eyes kept wandering back to focus on Nora. The chorus can seem like just so much staid human scenery in these plays. She enlivened that scenery to serve as a vibrant part of the story. In fact, each of the ensemble made their individual marks as well, contributing personality to their characters that distinguished them from just an exchangeable chorus of non-entities. In short, Efthycia made all the roles interesting. No part was wasted. Certainly, given the spartan stage, one had to use an imagination to visualize the setting. But the vivid portrayls and dress transported the audience back into that ancient time, entertainment all along the way.

Any show starring Efthycia or directed by her is one I'd highly and wholeheartedly recommend -- and actively seek out myself -- to experience ancient Greek theater performances that continue to speak to us with relevance about two and a half millennia after first created. Please pass my effusive praise, observations and best wishes to Efthychia and her husband Leonidas. I so look forward to seeing next year's production.



(tall white guy with blond hair and blue eyes and glasses who got there early for the Friday performance at Reed College)