Thursday, 18 April 2002

Paradise, Tes Lyssiotis, April 18, 2002

 By Tes Lyssiotis  at La Mama  April 18 to until 5 May, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The lives of ordinary people are not always represented in theatre unless in community projects. Tes Lyssiotis, in her new play, Paradise, puts a magnifying glass on a family living on a remote farm in Australia.

Green Room award winning director, Laurence Strangio, creates an atmospheric production that highlights effectively the strangeness of the harsh, arid land of drought-ridden Australia and the despair and confusion of the displaced immigrant.

Lyssiotis's script deals with Irini,a Greek migrant who married an Australian farmer, Robert Harris to live in a region that is ironically called Paradise. Her relationship to both her daughter, Zoe, her husband and to her dusty adopted land is fraught.

The play is not a linear narrative. We see, simultaneously, the older Irini Carmelina Di Guglielmo) with her older daughter (Katerina Kotsonis) overlapping in scenes with the younger Irini (Maria Theodorakis ) and Zoe. (Loukia Vassiliades)

The relationship between mother and daughter is the focus of the story. We are confronted with a series of questions.
Why are they estranged? Why have they come to Harris's grave together? Why did they both leave Paradise? How did father and Irini's son die? Why are Irini's letters from Greece so precious?

The young Irini never attached to the farm and was often irresponsible. She was obsessed with glamour and Hollywood movies. "Marry the right man at the right time", she says to Zoe. "A man with soft hands."

 In the play, the past and present are intercut while the older and younger characters echo each other's movements and dialogue. Strangio finds ways to stage these shifts and resonances with great style.

The play itself has an awkward rhythm intially and is perhaps a little cryptic in parts. However, it is an effective exposition of Irini and Zoe's lives and relationship.

Meg White's set design is deceptively simple. It incorporates the rust red of the desert in the floor with bolts of beige fabric used to delineate the space and upon which to project slides. An evocative sound design( Roger Alsop) and subtle lighting ( Bronwyn Pringle) complete the production.

By Kate Herbert

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