CULTURE

Athenians can get ‘All Cloned Up’ at Club 22

It is rare for a Greek director to stage a play in the heart of London’s theater district, and it is even rarer for the Greek public to get to see the performance. But that is what is happening tonight at Club 22 in Athens on the occasion of Athinorama’s third annual theater awards, with a performance of All Cloned Up, a play directed by Alkis Kritikos. Born to Cretan parents, Kritikos was raised in Cyprus and lives in London. It was during the 1970s that he began working as an actor, though he was soon drawn to directing. He has collaborated with a number of theater companies, including the Argonaut Theater Company, the London Repertory and the Royal Court, while he is due to appear in a role in Christos Siopahas’s upcoming film. Based on an idea by Mike Bennett, All Cloned Up began as a workshop and was initially presented at the Edinburgh Festival to critical acclaim, followed by performances at the King’s Head Theater. It is the story of a professor who clones rich folk at his New World Genetic Clinic. The professor hopes to murder his wife and clone her with a different character; the plan will lead to conflict, competition and the intervention of journalists and a peculiar lab assistant. ‘All Cloned Up,’ is black humor, a contemporary musical on the subject of cloning, says Kritikos. There are altogether 19 pop songs, in the Pet Shop Boys tradition. Was Kritikos able to see Closer to Heaven, the thought-provoking London performance? I was unable to see the play and though comparisons have been made between the two productions, the truth is that we are ahead of them in using pop music, he says. Is there a crisis facing the London musical scene? The great crisis facing musicals has become an issue for the British press. Audiences ought to have a number of options and I believe in alternative choices. The public wants to see new things and that’s exactly what the producers are after. Right from the start, our production was defined as a ‘cult’ performance, very similar to the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ in whose staging I was involved. I realized this when I saw people coming to the theater dressed up in similar clothes and wigs to the ones worn by the actors, just like they did at the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show.’ In the beginning, I thought they had taken the garments from the wardrobe. Another element adding to the theater crisis, according to the director, is the appearance of more and more Hollywood stars, such as Kathleen Turner, Nicole Kidman and Kevin Spacey, on London stages. You don’t always need a famous name, even though producers seek them in order to fill up the theaters. When a star is on stage, the audience’s attention might drift from the play and rest entirely on the star. That could be out of tune with the rest of the performance. As for the various cinematic elements and props, including video screenings, special effects and lighting – which are increasingly making their way onto London stages – Kritikos expressed the following viewpoint: I’m also one of those directors who are considered ‘visual.’ The visual element is positive, as long as it’s linked to the play, and is not used solely in order to impress. People nowadays see so many films at the cinema, and then they expect to see something similar at the theater. It is not, however, the same thing.