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‘It’s Still Greek To Me’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

‘It’s Still Greek To Me’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by August 27, 2018

‘It’s Still Greek to Me’ is the latest rambunctious presentation by one of WA’s finest comedy writers, Noel O’Neil and the Maverick Theatre Productions. Noel has named his company ‘Maverick’ – an untamed animal – dream on Noel, maybe 30 years ago; that is your first laugh of this wild show.

‘It’s All Greek to Me Too!’ is Noel O’Neill’s hilarious second sequel to a play he wrote just over three years ago. For a playwright to produce three plays on a single theme is quite rare. To keep up the ‘laugh aloud’ humour and find more quirkiness in the family situation is even rarer. Like most Irishmen, Noel has a tremendous way with words, so not surprisingly the script has great dialogue construction.

The last two plays in this series were fast sellers, and I am sure that the previous audiences will be curious to know what has happened to the loving but dysfunctional, London-based Greek family since we last saw them.

This laugh-a-minute, 2-hour comedy can be seen at the Old Mill Theatre, on the corner of Mill Point Road and Mends Street, South Perth on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at the earlier time of 7.30, until the 1st September. The matinées are on Sunday on 26th August at 2.00 pm and on Saturday 1st September, again at 2.00 pm.

Even though this is not an Old Mill show, it would be a kind gesture to advertise this show on your website; these days we must all work together.

 

The setting: is 1965 in a home in a northeast London suburb.

The excellent scenery: was designed and built by George Boyd, then decorated, fitted out and dressed by Noel O’Neill. It comprises the combined kitchen and lounge room of the crazy Greek family – Pilankous (loosely translated from the Greek  as ‘to see anxiety’, and there is plenty of it). Quick and efficient stage management by Andrea Von Bertouch.

The music from ‘Zorba the Greek’ is playing as the house lights dim. Very good lighting and sound effects, thanks to John Woolrych’s design and John Spurling slick work.

 

      In front of the stage, middle-aged Greek letch, Nicky or ‘Plank’ to his friends (Kim Taylor) explains to the audience how he has a sore strained back, damaged by extramarital ‘exercise’ with a posh woman from Finchley, Alexia (Maree Grayden).

      As Nicky enters his home lounge, his 6-month old grandson wakes up and starts crying. Nicky has no idea what to do. With the comment ‘Oh God, what should I do?’ there is a flash of lightening, a crash of thunder and his soothsayer friend, the avaricious Andronikos (Rex Gray) appears. Nicky is convinced that this Greek oracle is indeed a magical being, and is happy to pay for his advice.  

       The baby’s crying continues, but thankfully his long-suffering attractive wife, Athena (Vivienne Marshall) comes downstairs in her nightie and dressing gown. The baby’s single parent mother, their stylish daughter, Jenna (Vanja Fischer), is having a lie down.

       The young Plank son, Dimitri (Cameron Leese), is well named, being thick as a plank, with a minimal IQ. Fear not, Nicky and Athena’s dreams are about to come true, Dimitri has a new girlfriend, the beautiful Katarina (Bethwyn Legg), but sadly her brain is possibly even worse than Dimitri’s. They are keen to start a family, but neither knows how.

       When things are looking really tough, the Pilankous receive a dreaded telephone call from Greece, it is Nicky’s newly married cousin, Stavros (Andre Balzelli).

 

Although this is the third play in the series, no previous knowledge is required to enjoy this hysterical, well-produced comedy. For those old enough to remember the Saturday cinema matinées and ‘the serial’ – then this series of plays is a little like that – the writer hopes that you will forget the odd characters, and the ending of the previous play.

The costumes displayed the wild tastes of the mid-1960s, with mini-skirts and floral patterns. Just loved Vanja’s boots, and Cameron’s Teddy boy haircut. Vivienne added a few Greek words of her own, bringing outbursts of laughter from the Hellenic section of the audience.

This far from subtle play – written in the much loved style of the old BBC comedies such as ‘Are you being served?’ and ‘’ello, ‘ello’ has a simple story line, but with its superb characters and magnificent dialogue there is a laugh in every line. It was wonderful to see so many of the original actors returning. The very experienced cast, many of them Finley Award winners, brought a wealth of comedic chemistry and skills. Under the directorship of the writer, Noel O’Neill, a multitude of laughs was perfectly delivered.  A faultless cast, led by the deviant husband – Kim Taylor – and his witty repartee.

A really good, side-splitting, zany comedy. Highly recommended.