NEW YORK – A staged reading of Constantine Mourselas’ Mourning Does Not Become Her took place on March 16 at The Bridge Theatre at Shetler Studios in Manhattan and marks the play’s only known rendering into English.
The translation was performed first, followed by the Greek original, both by the same cast. The one-day event, Remembering Constantine Mourselas, was presented by American Thymele Theatre, currently in its 25th year as a touring company. Popular Greek playwright Constantine (Kostas) Mourselas died last July in Athens at the age of 85. He is credited with writing 130 one-act plays.
The three-character play, literally an elevator play, starred prominent actors of Greek descent Stephen Diacrussi, Anthoula Katsimatides, and Alexandros Malaos. The comic timing of the actors was priceless as they skillfully delivered Mourselas’ witty dialogue. It is a shame that so many years have passed since Mourning Does Not Become Her was last performed in New York and that the playwright’s work is not more appreciated by the wider community.
As noted in the program, the original Greek was presented in New York in 1989 by the Greek Cultural Center and also starred Diacrussi as Anthony, the beleaguered husband. Certainly, when talented artists bring an author’s work to life so well, future performances, whether staged readings or fully-staged productions, will hopefully follow not too far in the future.
The dynamic performances made the audience forget they were watching a staged reading as they became immersed in the unfolding story in front of their eyes. Set in an Athens freight elevator in 1971, the play follows the unraveling relationship between husband and wife Anthony and Cleopatra- played by Katsimatides, as they are confronted by the Third Person, played by Malaos, who seems to delight in challenging the couple and their traditional relationship and values. The characters, according to the playbill, represent “Greece as we knew it (Anthony), its current state as a nation (Cleo), and its uncertain future on the world map (Third Person).” Commenting on society then and now, the play is thoughtful and entertaining. Audience members were delighted with the show and look forward to the next production by these gifted artists.
American Thymele Theatre (ATT) was founded in 1993 to promote and disseminate Hellenic culture in America, and has since produced several plays in Greek and in English, touring the country and New York City public schools, and bringing the New York Euripides Summer Festival to indoor and outdoor venues across the city.