It is worthrepeating that the Greek community of Toronto isseeing a new influx of immigrants from Greece. They are young, educated, ambitious and willing to engage in cultural activities. Togetherwith young Canadians of Greek origin, they are bringing Greek drama to Torontoas never seen before. One such group is the theatre company Epi Skinis (OnStage) which has produced a comedy by a modern writer at Papermill Theatre,Toronto.
Pentanostimi is Lena Divani’s 2006 farce-cum-satire based loosely in Cinderella and (a friend tells me)satirizes Greek television cooking shows. Pentanostimo (extremely delicious?)is apparently the current buzzword on cooking shows that loquacious chefs useroutinely to describe their creations. The word has been changed into a nounand the name of the main character of the play is Pentanostimi (Maria Dilitsi),the Cinderella of the play.
Pentanostimi hastwo step-sisters, the dumb bimbo Panorea (Panagiota Vogdou) and the smart butnasty Panareti (Rania Mpampasi). They run the 2½ Restaurant badly and abuse Pentanostimi. That is one half of theplotline.
The other halfconsists of Polydoros (Dimitris Kompiliris), young, rich, handsome, principledand the heir to a cooking magazine. His assistant Polykratis’ (Yiannis Kassios)central interest is attractive women. He suggests that they run a cookingcontest open mostly to pretty women and not necessarily focused on theirculinary skills.
The two plotsintersect when the stepsisters see their opportunity to grab a husband and,since they can’t cook at all, they order Pentanostimi to prepare killer dishesfor them. She prepares a dynamite tomato soup.
But wait. Theyoung heir is shy and his unscrupulous assistant takes on the role of his boss.“Cinderella” enters the soup in the contest incognito, the sisters go for theassistant, the heir falls in love with you-know-who and he goes looking forher, slipper or is it spoon, in hand.
The play has twomore characters that I could not make much of. There is Afro (Ioanna Rizou), anextra-terrestrial robot and a Voice (Eirini Moschaki) which is supposed tocontrol everything. I don’t think the characters added anything to the play despiteefforts by the actors to make them amusing.
Mpampasi asPanareti reminded me of Morticia in the 1960’s sitcom The Addams Family. Black lipstick, lots of poses, sarcastic andpushy, she got the laughs. Vogdou was full of energy and empty of brains and weliked her and laughed at her foibles. The nice but abused Pentanostimi ofDiolitsi gets our sympathy and support and, you guessed it, she does get theprince.
Kassios has anatural comic flair and his Polykratis pretending to be Polydoros is a finesource of laughter. Kompiliris plays the necessary straight man to hisassistant’s shenanigans.
The play and theperformance take us to cooking shows in Athens where people, especiallyenthusiastic chefs, may adopt machine-gun speed when they talk. Many in theaudience are not used to it and speed at the cost of unclear enunciation is nota virtue.
The set consistsof two simple playing areas. On one side there is a counter representing therestaurant and on the other side a couch representing the office of themagazine. It works very well.
Maria Kordonidirects and is responsible for set design and costumes. Sophia Smyrnioudi isthe musical director and we hear Cinderella sing a couple of verses of “Overthe Rainbow” and Polydoros expresses his newfound-love with a few bars of “Maria”from WestSide Story.
With apologiesfor any mishaps in transliterating the names.
_________________PENTANOSTIMI by Lena Divani wasperformed three times on April 6 and 7, 2019 at the Papermill Theatre, 67Pottery Road, Toronto, Ontario. https://episkinistoronto.com/