I went to the theatre the other day.
On the way home it hit me : the outing was a good reflection of the present situation in Greece.
Getting to the theater, situated in a once fashionable now seedy part of Athens, right next to the infamous Victoria Square and two streets away from the notorious Filis street, filled with squalid brothels, was an adventure on its own since we had to drive between an anti – racist protest and the extreme right wing supporters who had gathered to protest against the protest!
The play, an old comedy of manners, was called “Fiakas” – meaning the “show off” . It was written and performed in Istanbul in the middle of the 19th century and relates the story of a charming scoundrel, living as a parasite in an opulent fashion and his efforts and failure to woo and marry a rich, naive heiress. A comedy of characters it satirises subtly the tendency to copy the western way of life – the rogue’s impersonation of a German baron is the argument that convinces the young girl to accept his proposal!!
The very good performances were punctuated by Smyrneika – songs of the Constantinople and Asia Minor Greeks- still very popular with the Greek public.
There is fear in the air in Greece, fear of the looming economic crisis, fear of the immigrants’influx, fear of unemployment, fear for the future and I had a taste of it while getting to the theater. At the same time, Greek society is keeping up appearances and showing off but our crimes are really misdemeanours – we are all looking for a rich, naive heiress. The nostalgia of the Polites – the Greeks born and bred in Constantinople – is also apparent and it still exists in modern Greece. No wonder Turkish tv serials are extremely popular, mostly for their beautiful portrayal of Istanbul, the Poli, the absolute city for the Greeks.
Theatre is a mirror of life in more ways than one.