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It’s off to the theatre we go

By Maria Gregoriou

We might all have slowed down during the Christmas period but the theatre never shows signs of stopping. It dibs and dabs this week, into the world of a madman driven to madness by his inferiority and one-sided love affair, and also into how the chaotic life of one couple can be so easily merged with the calm but predictable life of another.

Tonight at the Social Space Kaymakkin in the capital you can catch actor Marios Ioannou as he retells the story of a Diary of a Madman based on the short story by Gogol Nikolai. Diary of a Madman is thought to be one of Nikolai’s greatest short stories and is the only one to be written in the first person, using the diary format to follow the protagonist’s descent into insanity.

Ioannou plays Poprishchin, a low-ranking civil servant who yearns to be noticed by a beautiful woman who happens to be the daughter of a senior official. It is love at first sight, as his words seem to carry him away to a most magical place when he first sees her and says, “a footman opened the carriage door and out she fluttered, just like a little bird.”

With each of Poprishchin’s diary entries we see him slide, further and further, into insanity. As his madness deepens he begins to understand the conversations between two dogs and believes he has discovered letters that they have sent to each other. As his madness heightens further he begins to believe himself to be the heir to the throne of Spain.

When he is hauled off to the asylum he believes he is taking part in a strange coronation to the Spanish throne. It is only in his madness that the madman gains greatness. The story, therefore, portrays the average man’s quest for individuality in a seemingly indifferent, urban environment.

The play is directed by Spyros Charalambous.

Still on at the Dionysos Theatre in Nicosia is Demons by Swedish playwright, novelist and poet Lars Noren. This is the first time that the dark comedy has been staged on our island.

It is set in a Stockholm apartment on the night before the funeral of Frank’s mother. The action takes place in Frank and his wife, Katarina’s, apartment. An apartment that is very untidy and has cigarette ashes lying around in the most unexpected places.

The pair, in their late 30s, who have been a couple for nine years and have no children, are waiting for Frank’s brother to come for the funeral.

But the brother postpones his arrival and the couple now has to face the fact that they may have an evening of nothing to do on their hands. Jenna and Thomas live in the flat underneath them – they are the same age and have three children.

The rice that Jenna wants to borrow is the starting point for an invitation. The young parents, happy and exhausted by their children, walk into Frank and Katarina’s relationship hell.

The evening begins as a sort of friendly meeting of two couples and ends up being an evening of unplanned blunder. The four entangle themselves in a chain of humiliations, sexual provocations, unintended confessions and exhibitionistic attacks.

The play highlights what the fear of loneliness and boredom can do and what demons hideaway in the routine of the everyday.

Leandros Taliotis directs this play, which contains scenes of nudity and is suitable for audience members over the age of 18.

Diary of a Madman
Performance of the play based on the short story of Gogol Nikolai. December 29. Social Space Kaymakkin, 127 Arch. Makariou, Kaimakli, Nicosia. 8pm. €5. In Greek. Website: http://www.kaymakkin.org/

Demons
Performance of the dark comedy by Lars Noren. Until January 24. Dionysos Theatre, 29 Diagorou Street, Nicosia. 8.30pm and 6.30 on Sundays. €15/12/10. In Greek. Tel: 99-621845

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