Epidaurus festival ends with soul-seeking ‘Frogs’

This summer’s Epidaurus Festival will end with two performances of Aristophanes’ «Frogs« by the State Theater of Northern Greece this Friday and Saturday. «The State Theater of Northern Greece’s annual appearance at Epidaurus is always a challenge. The perplexity involved in the performance has to do with injecting contemporary life and relevance into ancient drama,» noted the venue’s artistic director, Victor Ardittis, at a recent news conference. The play, first performed in 405 BC, depicts a frustrated Dionysus, who, disappointed by the decline in the quality of drama following Euripides’ death, decides to take his slave Xanthias and descend into Hades to bring the poet back to the land of the living. To make his presence more imposing, Dionysus borrows the hide of a lion and a club belonging to Hercules, who visited Hades in the past. Commenting on his interpretation of Aristophanes’ work, the play’s director, Sotiris Hadzakis, noted that elements that had become somewhat hackneyed were forsaken in this production in the director’s pursuit of deeper understanding of Aristophanes’ play. «We will not see any use of the phallic element. We will not hear any obscenities, but not for any puritanical reasons. There will be no parallels drawn against today’s political figures,» said Hadzakis. «The handling of Aristophanes’ works, until now, has been connected with Greek traditional folklore, which comprises Greek salad, moussaka, foul language and the rest of it. We felt obligated to seek the essence and poetry of Aristophanes,» the director added. Alexandros Mylonas has been cast as Aeschylus, Costas Sandas as Euripides, Christos Stergioglou as Dionysus and Vassilis Haralambopoulos as Xanthias. The production’s translation is by Costas Tachtsis, sets are by Ersi Drini, costumes by Claire Bracewell, music by Elizabeth Swados, musical direction by Chris Kukul and choreography by Constantinos Rigos.