Plug in the Minister Brings the Laughs to Astoria

Chrysa Petridou, Ioanna Chasta, Giorgos Berbeis, Alexandros Ammohostianos, Ero Pappa, Stephanos Stephanou, Mantalena Papadatou, Andreas Pliatsikas, and Demetrios Sados. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

ASTORIA – Greek comedy has a long history in the world of theatre, going back at least to Aristophanes whose extant works are sometimes revived with great interest and success. More recent stage comedies can be difficult to translate for the Greek-American audience, but the demand is always high for a lighthearted theatrical experience.

The Fama Theater Group NY presentation of Val’ ton Ypourgo stin Priza (Plug in the Minister) by Thanasis Papathanasiou and Michalis Reppas is bringing the laughs to the Stathakion Cultural Center in Astoria. The strong cast, led by director and Fama Theater Group founder Alexandros Ammohostianos, works well together in the ensemble piece.

The physical comedy is a highlight of the farce as the actors navigate through the plot twists and the misunderstandings in the play as the scheming characters attempt to keep a government in power without anyone finding out that an important minister is in a coma and needs to be kept “plugged in.”

Ammohostianos in his remarks following the performance noted that the aim of the theater company is to bring back to the Greek-American community in the tri-state area the Greek comedy it has been missing for many years.

There is a reason “A laugh is worth a hundred groans in any market,” as English poet and essayist Charles Lamb wrote. Comedy can help shed a light on the absurdity of life and put things into perspective while offering a respite from the dreary and often tragic news we hear every day.

The cast of Plug in the Minister taking its bows following the performance. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Performed in Greek, Plug in the Minister has its moments of true comic gold, but the more delicate sensibilities should be aware that there is some strong language and innuendo. The show is, after all, intended for mature audiences. A few of the lines and references, though delivered well, did also seem a bit dated, but as actor Edmund Gwenn, best known today for his role as Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street (1947), famously said on his deathbed, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

The director and the entire company gave special thanks to the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York for the use of the space, and also thanked the playwrights Papathanasiou and Repas who granted the rights to present the project to the Greek community.

Among those present were Federation of Hellenic Societies President Cleanthis Meimaroglou, Pancyprian Cultural Division President Ismene Michaels, Pancyprian Choir Artistic and Music Director Phyto Stratis, and many members of the Choir and the community.

The performance on February 9 was followed by a reception with food provided by Dionysos Restaurant. Contributions were also collected for the Greek Children’s Fund following the show.

A scene from Plug in the Minister. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

A portion of the revenue from the production will be given to support the New York Greek Independence Parade in recognition of the project and the support provided by the Federation of Hellenic Societies.

Plug in the Minister is running for a limited engagement at the Stathakion Cultural Center, 22-51 29th Street in Astoria.

Performances take place during four weekends in February (Feb. 2-3, 9-10, 15-16, 23-24). On Saturdays, performances start at 8 PM and Sundays at 4 PM.

For reservations, call 917-635-8867.

A scene from Plug in the Minister with actors Mantalena Papadatou, Chrysa Petridou, Ero Pappa, Ioanna Chasta, and Alexandros Ammohostianos. Photo by Eleni Sakellis