CULTURE

Life’s plethora of ironies examined in Mamet play

“What is true? What is false? And, ultimately, what is important? Not having the answers is not a sign of ignorance. But it’s tremendously important to confront the questions,» leading American playwright and director David Mamet noted in the past. Mamet has once again injected this inquisitive and responsible approach to human existence – which invariably prompts a wide range of questions, from the disturbing to the trivial – into his most recent work «Boston Marriage,» now being performed in Greece for the first time at the capital’s Argo Theater. The work’s plot is based on power, dominance and manipulation in the lives of two intellectual homosexual women living in 19th century Boston, and a Scottish maid. The local production of «Boston Marriage,» a wry comedy, is directed by Aspa Tobouli and stars Emilia Ypsilanti, the theater’s artistic director, as well as Noni Ioannidou and the younger Despina Sidiropoulou. «What does theater have to say to a contemporary person who is not necessarily a theatergoer? What’s the strength of theater today when the main concern is the medium’s survival?» pondered Ypsilanti during an interview with Kathimeriini. «While film offers the public better stories, the possibility of greater identification or escapism, Mamet raises crucial questions. His work is always a challenge for somebody who does theater,» she added. Written in 1999, «Boston Marriage» was first staged later that year by the American Repertory Theater at the Hasty Pudding Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was taken to London’s Donmar Warehouse the following year before hitting the West End. «I promised myself to present something this season that would make the audience laugh,» explained Ypsilanti. «What I liked about this play was its ambiguity. Its scenario is flexible, leaves issues open, and poses questions. It’s aimed at human thought. It doesn’t resort to storytelling, and when this is so, it is overturned, scoffed at. Language is the main tool here,» she added. Human ties Ypsilanti said she felt fascinated by the character she plays. «Mamet sets the story in the 19th century. He has borrowed elements from Boulevard, Oscar Wilde, and Noel Coward to express completely relevant things,» said Ypsilanti. «He has used two homosexual women to deal with matters concerning relationships. Can, for example, sexual freedom be in step with comradeship? Mamet has decided to play a game involving the audience and the actors. He makes humorously serious statements. He doesn’t grab a topic by the hair with the aim of draining it. He’s constantly winking an eye at the theatergoer. It’s maddening for the actors!» The play also raises class issues. «Two emancipated, sexually liberated women treat a maid in the worst possible way. Fortunately, she emancipates herself during the play. I very much like the fact that an American is so progressive, today,» Ypsilanti said. «You know, when you put two lesbians into theater people react negatively, and I experience this daily. Mamet goes beyond the topic of sex to end up dealing with love and comradeship. In times of need, we women ought to support each other more, especially as the years go by…» The production’s stage setting is designed by Simos Karafilis; costume design is by Claire Bresouelle; the music was composed by Platon Andritsakis; and Mariella Nestora is the performance’s stage movement coordinator. Argo Theater: 15 Elefsinion, Metaxourgeio, tel 210.520.1684