Tuesday, July 19, 2016


James Karas

** (out of five)

When can a number of relatively minor, let us say, infelicities become so cumulatively annoying as to spoil a production? I am not sure I can quantify them but that is what happened in the production of Waiting for Godot which was performed in the courtyard of the Benaki Museum on Peireos Street in Athens.
As the audience slowly sauntered into the 200-seat theatre allowing themselves the statutory Greek 15-monute delay, I heard some unrecognizable music repeating the words Becket or Godot. I try to tune it out. Some sand with bricks in the center of the courtyard will be the main playing area. The famous tree consists of an uprooted stump hanging above the sand.

The two tramps Vladimir (Lazaros Georgakopoulos) and Estragon (Dimitris Bitos) enter and they are wearing clothes that just came back from the cleaner. Their hats are also spick-and-span as is their footwear. These are people who sleep in ditches? The same applies to Pozzo (Antonis Antonopoulos) and Lucky (Aineias Tsamatis).

For some mysterious reason, director Natasa Triantafylli wants us to know that Vladimir and Estrogen are linguistically gifted. Throughout the performance they toss in numerous words and phrases in French and English. A selection: why, what, yes sir, oui monsieur, d’accord, I am happy, look at the tree.
At the end of Act I a voice tells us that the tramps do not move. There is no intermission but we are given the stage directions of “Enter Estragon barefoot.” Do we really need to be told that when it is in front of us and we can all see it? We are treated to an announcement of stage directions as if they were part of the text of the play more than once.

The performance takes place in a small theatre and the actors hardly need to project their voice to be heard by everyone. What does Triantafylli do? She puts mikes on all the actors. These are taped on their cheeks and are perfectly visible. The actors’ voices are heard through loud speakers and at the beginning we also heard an echo. If there is an explanation for this unacceptable move, it escapes me.

Despite all of the above millstones around their necks, Georgakopoulos and Bitos had a good handle on their roles. Godot is or can be a very funny play but somehow in this production they did not manage more than a couple of twitters and not a single laugh.

Antonopoulos underplayed Pozzo and I think he needed to show more viciousness in the first act and more pathos in the second. Tsamatis as Lucky and the Boy did a fine job.

In the end, what should have been relatively minor nuisances individually added up to a disappointing production. Triantafylli, costume designer Ioanna Tsami and music director MONIKA missed a number of details that made for a so-so night at the theatre.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett in a translation by Eri Kyrgia opened on July 14, 2016 and will be performed sixteen times at the Aithrio Mouseiou Benaki, 138 Peireos Street, Athens, Greece.   

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