Looming The MemoryA monologue: to do or not to do? This is always a difficult question for an actor. The monologue is a tough experience. Not only because the actor is going to be alone at all times, be it in the dressing room, backstage or on stage, but also because it is a difficult test of one's talent. This is only made harder by the fact that well-known playwrights not often write for one particular actor. Sometimes, when they do decide to write a monologue, it is because they are going to stage the play themselves. This is what British Steven Berkoff and Canadian Robert Lepage have been doing, with great success, in the past few years, traveling around the world with sarcastic plays like “Shakespeare's Villains”, performed by Berkoff, and beautiful works such as “Les Aiguilles et l'Opium” (“Needles and Opium”) and “La face cachée de la lune” (“The Far Side of the Moon”), both written and presented by Lepage.

I’m not saying that an actor can only be successful in a monologue because they wrote the text, but when they do, it can be easier because they have included their soul or personal history in it. “Looming the Memory”, first presented in 2006 at The Blue Room and currently at The Rechabites’ Hall, is just such an example. Written and performed by Thomas Papathanassiou, this beautiful piece of theatre tells the memories, the stories and incorporates the soul of a young man who, after moving to Australia when he was a three years old toddler, goes back to Greece with his parents for a summer holiday.

Thomas Papathanassiou did a great a job as a writer because instead of concentrating the text in his own emotions, he spent time trying to understand everybody else’s fears and emotions when facing an expatriate on vacation. The result is a text that translates well to the public not only the feelings of a young man split between his country of birth and his actual home, but also the emotions of relatives and friends when dealing with his family's migration.

Although Thomas Papathanassiou’s text is good, the play wouldn’t be so successful in any other actor's interpretation, and that is not only because he knows and feels exactly what he is acting. During one hour or a little more, Papathanassiou lives on stage himself, his parents, his relatives, some odd characters and even a chicken, which he seemed to love very much when he was a child. His work is remarkable, especially when he is interpreting some of his strange characters, like an old aunt, which everyone in the village was afraid of, because they thought she was a witch. Papathanassiou was also very fortunate in his choice of director. Apparently, John Byrne Saunders knew the text and the actor he had in his hands and did the right thing opting for a direction that is simple and emotional, reflecting perfectly Papathassiou's stories.

Looming the Memory is a good show not only because a performer does and impressive work on stage, but especially because it shows so well how difficult it is to have the heart in two places.

Looming The Memory
By Thomas Papathanassiou

Venue: The Rechabites’ Hall, 224 William Street, Northbridge
Season: 8 - 17 May 2008
Times: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 11am & 6.30 pm / Friday 8pm / Saturday 2pm & 8pm
Tickets: Full $23. Concession $18. Groups (6+) $20. School Groups $13.50.
*All Preview tickets $18 @ the door
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing 9484 1133 / www.bocsticketing.com.au / Groups 9321 6831 (Booking fees apply)

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