Νέος Ξανά (Young Again) is a new play by Gregory Terzakis, produced by the Irida Art Group and The Greek Community of Toronto, and performed to full houses at the Papermill Theatre, Toronto. That is worth repeating and emphasizing.
Terzakis also directed the play, designed the set, selected the music, played two of the major roles and supervised the production. If that is not enough, consider how much theatre in Greek is available in Canada and start counting on the fingers of one hand.
Young Again is part Mephistopheles and Faust, part Scrooge and in part a look back at Greek films of the 1950s and 1960s.
Nikitas (Panagiotis Apatsidis) a rich old man sees Hara (Antonia Kokkorou), a very pretty, young woman and he wishes he were young again. There are Greek gods and goddesses that can accomplish that but the most recent and reliable converter is surely Mephistopheles who, you will recall, changed Faust into a young man for a price.
Terzakis first appears as a family doctor looking after Nikitas and then appears as a Mysterious Man in a black suit. He offers to make Nikitas young (for a price) and follows the instructions of the Faustian Nikitas (he is never called Faust) gives him. Make me young, thinner, get rid of my gray hair, asks Nikitas and his wishes are fulfilled. Nikitas becomes Nikos (Hector Pasopoulos) and he is off to pursue the lovely Hara.
Hara’s family, Dina (Christina Diakou) and Gianna (Ioanna Apatsidou) and Zena (Zena Tzara) are available for comic business and the operation of a bar in hard economic times. Nikos rents the small apartment above the bar and courting Hara becomes a cinch especially since she is taken in by this extravagant young man.
Let’s put aside Mephistopheles and Faust and get some musical entertainment in the bar. Konstantinos Mantzafleris plays the piano and Giorgos Tasis sings with a couple of young men doing some dancing. Dimitris Anastasious is the choreographer. Somehow this reminded me of a staple in old Greek comedies where the characters found themselves in a nightclub.
The love story between Nikos and Hara cannot last and it starts unravelling. Nikos is not rich, he drinks too much and becomes annoying. The doctor starts looking awfully good as Nikos starts looking less desirable. We do meet Nikitas’s former employee Akis (Stamatis Sofronis) who brags to Nikos about how he was bilking his employer, that utter cheapskate Nikitas, with phony invoices and other dishonest methods.
By this time, we have been well-entertained and the play must come to an end. The plot strands are resolved (I will not tell you how) and there is a happy-ever-after for all. Well, maybe not really.
Some of the actors showed genuine comic talent and the play was well-acted. One can quibble about some things but one should also consider that Greek community productions are sparse and a wonder that they happen at all.
For a long time, Nancy Athan-Mylonas kept the flame burning (she is still around) and Terzakis deserves high commendation for continuing to write and produce theatre for the Greek community.
The audience was enthusiastic, the laughter genuine and we got a nice example of community theatre at its best.
Νέος Ξανά (Young Again) by Gregory Terzakis was performed on April 21 to 23 and 29, 30, 2023 at the Papermill Theatre in the Todmorden Mills Heritage Site, 67 Pottery Road, Toronto, Ontario. www.greekcommunity.org