Couples’ eternal struggles

The few people who managed to see Giorgos Iliopoulos’s play «4EVER» at the First Competition of Modern Greek Plays, organized by producer Tassos Papandreou at the Ilissia Theater last year, believe that the play deserved all the distinctions it received (it won the best direction, best play and best production awards, as well as a special mention for the actors’ performances). The play is now being staged at the Ilissia-Volanakis Theater for a few shows only, starring Nikos Arvanitis and Dina Avagiannou under the direction of Varvara Douka. The play deals with the problems of living together and the eternal effort to turn two into one: «We have a 30-something couple, married with children, who have been together since school. They are both successful architects and have a common office – they are so close it is now impossible for them to separate some things,» said the director. «They go to an island over a weekend, to hand over some plans for a hotel extension to a businessman. The woman insists that the man’s plans are too excessive artistically and that the businessman won’t like them. In this way a quarrel starts, which quickly moves on to personal stuff, until he tells her, at some point, that he wants them to break up. Because by now things have moved on to his canceled artistic dreams, to the woman’s betrayal and defeat and much more, so everything is suddenly reversed in the course of one night. Everything will start again the following morning, but only after a ferocious night…» When asked to compare the play with Edward Albee’s «Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?» Douka seemed positive. «Yes, everything has been said, but the point here lies in how you act it, because this play is based on acting. It requires two very good actors, and had I not had Nikos Arvanitis and Dina Avagiannou I wouldn’t have decided to go ahead with it. They happen to also be a couple in real life for a long time now, so they were perfect.» ‘Circular feeling’ The interpretation was the director’s main worry regarding the staging of the play. «My mise en scene has maintained that circular feeling, that huge crisis that couples go through at some point only to start over again – furniture turns around slowly, until it comes back to where it was,» said Douka. «But this is just a detail and even the stage sets (made by Constantinos Zamanis) only consist of a black neutral space, with few objects; it is a space situated in nowhere and everywhere at the same time. What is most important is the hard work that was done with the actors. As is the case with all of Iliopoulos’s plays, «4EVER» is firmly grounded in realism, but also contains a sense of madness and humor. It is a weird sense of humor, which runs the danger of becoming vulgar and caricature-like if one is not careful with it. By concentrating on realism and the quality of acting, it acquires the value and the depth that it needs. Plays by young playwrights must be played by good actors and be directed by an experienced director.» Ilissia-Volanakis Theater, 4 Papadiamantopoulou, Ilissia, tel 210.721.0045. The play is staged Wednesdays to Sundays at 9 p.m.