Six women and a baby: Re-evaluating love, life

A baby – the arrival of a baby to be precise – brings together six young women. They are old friends and the situation calls for a re-evaluation of their relationships with one another, as well as their relationship with the opposite sex. This is the storyline of «Whale Music,» an intriguing play by British playwright/director Anthony Minghella (whose writing and filming credits include «The English Patient» and «The Talented Mr Ripley»). The play, which opened in 1988, has met with great success in a number of countries, turning into a long-running television series in Canada, for instance. It is now being staged in Athens, in a production featuring a new, young all-female cast at the Fournos Theater. Besides being women only, the cast members have another thing in common. They are all students of well-known actress and director Roula Pateraki, who undertook the production’s direction. «This is the cast’s first venture as a troupe. They are financing it and they asked me to direct this play by Minghella which I found particularly interesting,» says Pateraki. «It’s really a simple, contemporary story. A young woman returns to her native land, a seaside town in the south of England, in order to give birth. She is pregnant, she doesn’t really know who the father is, but she knows she wants to keep the child. She is welcomed there by all her old friends, among them a lesbian pal living with her girlfriend. She decides to stay with the couple until the end of her pregnancy. Strangely enough, however, after the baby’s birth, the child is given up for adoption. In the end, the young woman leaves town the same way she came.» For Pateraki, it’s not the plot that is of interest, but the way in which all the characters interact, the developing relationships and the secrets that lie behind them. «In the end, love conquers all,» says the director. «There is a sense of deep humanity and friendship which brings people together, even the ones who are after the same man. Though they might be sharing the same lover, they are still friends, they care for each other. And that is what really matters.» In directing the play, Pateraki chose to go down a rather lighthearted path, injecting a touch of comedy, while Minghella’s so-called cinematic language was expressed through a number of entertaining findings in the direction, set design or the interpretation. The play was translated by Pateraki, Despina Serafidou and Lenika Arfani, with set design and costumes by Kika Karabella, choreography by Lia Meletopoulou, and lighting by Tassos Paleoroutas and Costas Sourvanos in charge of music. The cast includes Iota Georgopoulou, Despina Serafidou, Argyro Pipini, Evri Sofroniadou, Lenika Arfani, Sonia Perlenga and Tassia Sofianidou. Performances take place Thursdays to Mondays at 9.30 p.m. Fridays also at midnight. Fournos Theater, 168 Mavromichali, tel 210.646.0748.