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Loxandra in theatres

Loxandra, based on the fascinating novel by Maria Iordanidou, adapted for the stage by Akis Dimos and directed by Sotiris Hatzakis, is a charming journey through time, viewed through the eyes (and recipes) of a charismatic woman. The play is ready to take the island’s stages, with three scheduled performances so far.

The first performance will be on September 19 at Larnaca’s Pattichion Amphitheatre, then the following day at Nicosia’s School for the Blind, and lastly at the Municipal Gardens Theatre of Limassol on September 21.

Loxandra is the de facto head of a Greek family in Constantinople in the late 19th century – a woman of “big arched feet and slim ankles”, of “big hands like those of a patriarch… hands for kissing, fingers long and shapely, made to bless and to smell of mahlepi and incense, hands made for giving”. She was born in the time of Abdul-Medjid I, the 31st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, who reigned from 1839 to 1861.

Life for the Greeks of Constantinople was relatively untroubled then. The 19th century was a time of reforms which established (on paper at least) freedom of belief and equality before the law for all citizens of the Empire. Greeks were able to avoid conscription into the Ottoman army by paying a moderate tax, their merchants and craftsmen continued to ply their trades, and business between East and West moved along good-naturedly enough.

The 19th century was also marked by a period of rising nationalism in the Balkans – but Loxandra was only partially aware of external events that did not immediately intrude on her life. Her life was centred on caring for her extended family. She had been brought up in the Anatolian tradition of love of good food, and culinary delights flowed from her hands – and her kitchen – as from the horn of plenty. Nor was her generosity and enthusiasm for life and food confined solely to her family, spilling over to everyone with whom she came into contact. However, Loxandra is not simply a story about Loxandra herself; it’s more an evocation of an epoch — its historical events, the spirit of those times, the customs, life in that ‘Queen of Cities’ — a background against which the irrepressible Loxandra, almost larger than life, sails like “an armed frigate before the wind”.

Loxandra

Play based on the novel by Maria Iordanidou, adapted for the stage by Akis Dimos and directed by Sotiris Hatzakis. September 19. Pattichion Municipal Amphitheatre, Larnaca. September 20. School for the Blind, Nicosia. September 21. Municipal Gardens Theatre, Limassol. 8.30pm. €20/25/30

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