TYPICALLY used to highlight not understanding, the phrase “it’s all Greek to me” now lends itself to the title of a play premiering at the Old Mill Theatre in May.
Written by WA playwright Noel O’Neill and directed by Valerie Dragojevic, hilarity turns to disaster in a comedy of errors set in 1960s London when a man makes a promise he cannot keep.
It’s All Greek To Me is the story of Nicolous Pilankous who celebrates with a bottle of ouzo one night and suddenly gets a call from his lonely cousin Stavros in Greece.
In his drunken state, “Nicky” promises him a wife – leading to hilarious and sometimes disastrous results.
“My inspiration for the play came from the Greeks I grew up with in London in the late ’50s and 60s,” O’Neill said. “It’s All Greek To Me is a tribute to the era.
“I was – and still am – a huge fan of Anthony Quinn who I saw play Zorba The Greek at the movies.
“I fell in love with how passionate it all seemed and how passionate these Greeks were with their music and dancing.”
O’Neill moved to New York in his late teens and studied acting with Lee Strasberg, appearing in many off-Broadway productions
Since moving to Perth 12 years ago, he has worked with the Old Mill and KADS Theatres, Graduate Dramatic Society and Irish Theatre Players.
O’Neill has won numerous awards for his work and currently lectures for the WA Academy of Performing Arts and Perth Actors’ Collective.
“The most interesting aspect of It’s All Greek To Me is watching characters gradually change as the play develops,” he said.
“There are lessons to be learnt through their mistakes – the rest is up to the gods.”
Director Valerie Dragojevic (who also plays Jenna) brought O’Neill’s Snow and Ash to life last year, winning several awards at Dramafest, the annual state drama festival.
“It’s All Greek To Me is a slice of high comedy from life,” she said. “It has a philandering husband with a suicidal wife and a son who’s one olive short of a Greek salad.
“I haven't directed comedy before and was keen to try it out.
“It’s so much fun, compared to dark drama, and inspires laughter – we all need to laugh more.”
Dragojevic said the main challenge lies in finding the truth in each character and ensuring it is expressed.
“I don't believe in playing for laughs,” she said. “Leave the laughing to the audience – the actor needs to give an honest performance.”
It’s All Greek To Me plays at 8pm, May 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16 and 17 with a 2pm matinee May 11.
Tickets are $25, $20 concession – book at http://oldmilltheatre.com.au/tickets or on 9367 8719.
The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth (opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post).
greek1: Nicky (Kim Taylor, left) with the local clairvoyant Andronikus (Rex Gray) in the world premiere of It’s All Greek To Me. Picture: Rick Hughes.
greek2: Nicky (Kim Taylor, left) tries to resist the flirtatious charms of Circe (Nada Dilevska) in It’s All Greek To Me this May. Picture: Rick Hughes.
greek3: None-too-bright Dimitri (Cameron Leese), father Nicky (Kim Taylor) and pregnant daughter Jenna (Valerie Dragojevic) at odds in It’s All Greek To Me. Picture: Rick Hughes.
greek4: Director Valerie Dragojevic, right, and writer Noel O’Neill, second from right, with some of the It’s All Greek To Me Cast (Kim Taylor, Vivienne Marshall and Rex Gray). Picture: Rick Hughes.
Old Mill Theatre
South Perth's Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to be operating out of one of the most historic buildings in South Perth. It was opened in 1899 as a Mechanics' Institute Hall. The South Perth Council purchased the building in 1913 and renamed it the Mends Street Hall. The council still owns the building, and supports our use of it.
The building first became a home of theatre in 1948, when the South Perth Dramatic Society moved in. The name Old Mill Theatre was first used in 1958, and the company was incorporated in 1959. In 2009, the theatre celebrated its 60th anniversary.
A number of significant changes to the building have occurred over the past few years, with major extensions completed in 2002. An understage tunnel, which links two backstage dressing rooms and enables easier access from one side of the stage to the other, was completed in 2008. Bathroom facilities have also been installed backstage as part of this project, which was wholly self-funded.
The Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to have strong support from its local council, the City of South Perth. The city undertook major renovations to the exterior of the building in 2008 and the theatre is looking better now than ever before.
P: 0416 216 407