Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 4 March 2016
Taxithi – An Australian Odyssey, March 3, 2016 ***
By Helen Yotis
At fortyfivedownstairs, March 3 to 20, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:*** Full review also online at Herald Sun Arts today and in print later. KH
of hopeful Greek women of all ages migrated to Australia in the 1950s and 60s
and Taxithi – An Australian Odyssey weaves their personal stories among the spirited
songs of their distant homeland.
Helen Yotis Patterson, collected tales told by her Yiayias (grandmothers) and
other Greek immigrant women whose intimate stories were previously untold or
the warm and ebullient Yotis Patterson on stage to illuminate the lives and
music of these myriad women are the inimitable Maria Mercedes and newcomer, Artemis
Ioannides, all three of whom celebrate their own Greek heritage.
narratives include those of angry exiles, unwilling proxy brides, knowing
mothers, abused wives, hopeful girls, educated or unschooled women and deprived
immigrants seeking the promised ‘streets paved with gold’ in Australia.
performers, directed by Petra Kalive who shares their Greek background, deliver
stories, inhabit characters and perform songs with sincerity, commitment and
Patterson has a rich, bold vocal tone and feisty but motherly persona, Mercedes
brings dignity, elegance and a subtle, emotional vocal delivery while Ioannides
performs with youthful energy and a light-footed physicality.
open throated style of singing heightens the unbridled joy and despair of songs
that are all sung in Greek and range from ballads to laments and rousing
impassioned lyrics and tunes resonate with the women’s feelings of abandonment,
angst and absence, distance and separation, but also include songs of hope,
love and joy.
musicians, Andrew Patterson (piano) and Jacob Papadopoulos (bouzouki) who are
secreted behind cool, creamy curtains, enhance the swelling vocals of the singers
with the authentic sounds of Greek music.
actors’ performances are heartfelt although this occasionally tilts into an uncomfortable
earnestness and the production might benefit from a little more lightness and humour.
individual stories are compelling but the structure of this episodic show lacks
a clear dramatic arc, perhaps because the themes and characters become
there is dramatic tension within specific vignettes and the songs have their
own internal dramatic structure while the sense of history is strengthened by
the projection of photographs from 1950s and 60s onto upstage screens.
production harks back to the joyful, community theatre shows of the 1980s and
90s that celebrated the immigrant experience through verbatim storytelling and traditional
is a timely reminder of the contribution of immigrants that changed the face of
Melbourne when they joined our community and raised their families in this
Helen Yotis Patterson
Helen Yotis Patterson, Maria Mercedes, Artemis