A relationship in the shadow of terrorism

It is the early hours of September 12, 2001, in New York, a few hours after the collapse of the Twin Towers. Ben’s mobile phone begins to ring relentlessly… this is the precise moment that the play «The Mercy Seat» by Neil LaBute begins. In the middle of a complete catastrophe, a couple try to find a way out of their relationship. We find ourselves next to the sofa on which they sit. At Nikos Diamantis’s Simeio Theater, behind Panteion University, the performance has begun. Ben and Abby are illicit lovers. He has decided to put an end to their relationship. Abby is asking for some clarity. However, Ben is no good at making decisions. The moment that everything collapses, they find themselves stuck in Abby’s home which is directly opposite the Twin Towers. «I was intrigued by the way that LaBute used this theme – how he went past the public incident and took it to a personal level. The huge disaster that befell a huge number of people makes two lovers decide how to move on with their lives,» says director Nikos Diamantis in a telephone conversation with Kathimerini. LaBute claims that he had no idea why he wrote the play and that although the Twin Towers disaster is omnipresent, the play is not about politics or terrorism. Neil LaBute is a phenomenon of the American theater scene. A writer of Sofia Coppola’s generation, his sense of aesthetics combines the styles of David Mamet and Edward Albee, August Strindberg and Harold Pinter. «’The Mercy Seat’ is a play about relationships, a work about the battle between the sexes,» explains Diamantis. On the one hand, you have Ben (Avgoustinos Remoundos) who is undecided and weak. On the other, you have Abby (Ioanna Makri) who is dynamic and wants to settle her scores before venturing out into the streets of New York. Diamantis positions the audience next to the couple. «I am interested in the relationship between the viewers and the play,» he says. «The Mercy Seat» premiered on November 26, 2002, at the Manhattan Class Company Theater, directed by Neil LaBute and starring Liev Schreiber and Sigourney Weaver. Simeio Theater, 10 Harilaou Trikoupi, Kallithea, tel 210.922.9579. Performances every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.