A play written in a good humour which is infectious, in a poetic mood which quickens both eye and heart, yet a play full of puzzles. A happy version of the myth of Helen and Menelaus , in which only a phantom of Helen was in Troy with Paris, while real Helen is in Egypt, at the palace of the king Proteus, waiting for Menelaus. In Troy they fight for a shadow, while Helen of Troy is a suppliant at Proteus grave, trying to avoid his son Theoclymenous, Kıng of Egypt who desires her. And while Teucer passes by Egypt and informs her that Menelaus has probably drowned, a ship wrecker arrives who is Menelaus himself. The couple reunites and manages to escape from Theoclymenus.
The play belongs to the so called “controversial” Tragedies of the great poet.
This kind of play forms a revolutionary challenge to the basic principle of Tragedy as “crime-punishment-catharsis”, based on the preexisting Myth that wants people to be prey to divine or existential commands, namely victims of a law above and beyond their powers.
Euripides is the revolutionary poet-philosopher who, while he wrote for us stirring “orthodox” Tragedies like Hecabe, Trojan Women, Medea, Andromache, Phoenissae, etc, he also wrote the above kind of play, placing man in the centre of his decisions and choices, – “a man deserving his fate?” – but also trapped in an extreme emotional contradiction and insecurity, a condition similar to psychological [ and physical?] panic, – panic attack.
The other insanely genius contra tempo is that this kind of play always leads its heroes to a “happy ending”, since they, in one way or another, “escape” from their Tragic Destiny.
Note: For the writer of this note, this Tragic Irony of Euripides is harder than the catharsis that comes through the fatal punishment of the “tainted” heroes of Tragedy. Because they have burdened their souls and bodies with such and so many “sins” in that they are in essence like “living-dead”.
So this play by Euripides, takes us to a “twisted” version of the myth of Helen of Troy, in which she is said to have willingly followed her lover Paris, abandoning her husband Menelaus, thus providing the cause of the “peaceful” military operations of the Greeks against Troy in order to take revenge.
The poet in this play imagines that Helen was an idol of the real Helen. The real Helen has been kidnapped with the consent of the gods and was sent to Egypt as a priestess in the service of the king there.
The performance emphasizes the emotional deadlock in which the two heroes Helen – Menelaus, find themselves before and after their recognizing each other in a foreign land and their planning to escape, it stretches Helen’s attendants to the level of horrified girls that were brutally kidnapped and are anxious about their fate. It creates the atmosphere of a detective story, conveying an analogous suspense throughout the unfolding of the couple’s escape plan 17 years after their violent separation.
I consider this play to be a postmodern one and I believe this is how Ancient Greek Literature should be regarded today, in the time of market globalization but also as Kastoriades puts it, the rise of triviality.
The Amfiktio Foundation and by extension the Amfiktio Theatre is a non profitable cultural organization which was founded on 25th January 2008.
The Foundation aims at the revival of ancient Greek drama through continuous research and quest of new interesting ways of presenting it to modern audiences. Another basic aim is contributing to the cultural life of the country and Europe.
The founder and president of the theatre is the internationally acclaimed director and actor, Nicos Charalambous. The members of the Board of Directors are prominent artists (actors, directors, musicians, set designers etc). The Secretary is the director Costas Hadjistavrou.
The Amfiktio Theatre has so far staged Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, Nikos Kazantzakis’ Melissa, Nicky Silver’s Fat Men In Skirts, Eric Emmanuel Schmitt’s Two Worlds Hotel, Euripides’ Cyclops, Polly Stenham’s That Face, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Irena Ioannidou Adamidou’s Marital Council.
Translation: Leonidas Zenakos
Direction-Dramaturgy: Nicos Charalambous
Music: Loucas Erotokritou
Movement: Nataly Amman
Settings-Costumes: Mariza Bargili
Assistant Director: Christiana Mouzoura
Production Direction: Costas Hadjistavrou
In order of appearance
Helen: Kynthia Pavlidou
Menelaus: Charis Kkolos
Teucer: Skevos Polykarpou
Old Woman: Vasiliki Dialyna
Theonoe: Natia Charalambous
Theoclymenus: Manos Galanis
Messenger A: Marios Kakoullis
Messenger B: Marios Stylianou
Messenger C: Markos-Julius Droushiotis
Chorus of Women:
Leaders of the Chorus:
Irene Andronikou, Efi Charalambous, Irena Ioannidou
Twelve girls from the Dramatic School of Satirikon