Reviewed by James Karas
The promotion photo for To Onoma Mou Einai Eva (Το Όνομα μου Είναι Εύα) shows a beautiful woman, wearing a fur around her shoulders but with smeared red lipstick and mascara. And she is in handcuffs. There are numerous clues to the plot of the new play by George Scandalis that is now playing at the Alumnae Theatre.
There are some notable facts about the production. It is performed in impeccable Greek by local amateur actors with varying degrees of acting experience. Scandalis also directs this thriller that is wrapped in a recital or perhaps a recital of Greek songs from the 1970’s that form the backbone of the thriller.
The play opens with a gunshot in the dark. We then meet Eva (Michalitsa Catsiliras), a beautiful woman with a fine voice who sings in a bar. She is forcefully taken from the bar to a psychiatric clinic and the story of her tragic descent into hell is told in flashbacks as she is interviewed by Martha, a straight-laced psychiatrist, played by Christina Houtris.
Eva has two friends. Panos (George Kefalas), a decent but ineffectual man who stands by her and Stella (Georgia Nazou), a sultry, cynical and sarcastic worker at the bar. Eva’s retort to most of Stella’s comments is “skase” (shat up).
Eva falls in love with Niko (Andreas Batakis), a civil engineer and the brother of the owner of the bar Kosta (John Koukouvlis), Niko is a lean, sharp-nosed and self-centered scoundrel who shows no redeeming traits but Eva falls in love with him and becomes his mistress. She claims that she is drawn by his eyes but there are precious few moments when she actually looks into them. Love is blind and we accept her feelings for hm.
The cast of ten is rounded off with Anastasia Botos, Stavroula Karnouskou, Nancy-Athan Mylonas (in a dramatic small role) and Irene Pavlakis and giving any details about their roles runs the risk of being a plot spoiler.
The action takes place mostly in the bar where Eva sings, her dressing room and the psychiatrist’s office. A revolving set provides for easy and frequent scene changes in a play that has fully seventeen scenes for its 1 hour and 45 minute duration.
Scandalis gives us clues about the path of the plot but as it becomes a thriller and sends us off to misleading byways. Panos asks “where is the child” from the beginning and we hear the cries of a child frequently. We are given background information, we witness some violence, and we see heavy drinking and narcotics, as the flashbacks come closer and closer to the present.
The gun of the opening scene comes into play again and the play comes to its surprising and unexpected end as a thriller should.
To Onoma Moy Einai Eva is a true community theatre production. In the GTA Greek community, that is not a particularly frequent occurrence and a production at the Alumnae Theatre is an extreme exception. Ten Tone Productions has managed to harness local talent, community financial support and a full house of young and enthusiastic people for opening night.
There is good precedent for well-off citizens providing financial support for the theatre. In Ancient Athens, productions were financed by choregoi and no Greek needs a translation of that word. A good number of them stepped up to support Ten Tone Productions and they deserve a special olive wreath for their generosity.
I note that Ten Tone assiduously refused to call the play by anything but its Greek title of Το Όνομα μου Είναι Εύα although in the programme and on the company’s website most information is in English.
In any event, Greek theatre is alive and well in Toronto even if it is for only six performances.
Το Όνομα Μου Είναι Εύα by George Scandalis opened on December 13 and will be performed six times until December 17, 2017 at the Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley Street, Toronto, Ontario. www.tentoneproductions.com