Ftistos o Makaritis Delights the Audience at Greek Cultural Center

Left to right: Lazaros Theodorakopoulos, Theodoros Petropoulos, Mantalena Papadatou, Alexandra Skendrou, director Ioanna Katsarou, playwright Penny Fylaktaki, Deodoros Pagoudis, Chrysi Sylaidi, and Tasos Karydis taking their curtain call on opening night of Ftistos o Makaritis. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

ASTORIA – Ftistos o Makaritis (The Spitting Image of the Departed) by Penny Fylaktaki, directed by Ioanna Katsarou opened on April 19 to a packed house at the Greek Cultural Center in Astoria. The contemporary comedy delighted the audience with its witty take on one Greek family’s personal debt crisis.

The talented cast: Tasos Karydis, Lazaros Theodorakopoulos, Alexandra Skendrou, Theodoros Petropoulos, Chrysi Sylaidi, Mantalena Papadatou, and Deodoros Pagoudis, kept the audience in stitches throughout the show with their sharp, comedic timing and delivery, capturing the absurdity as well as the inherent truth of each character.

Karydis as Michel and Theodorakopoulos as the court clerk set a frantic comic pace in the opening scene, recalling the pacing and banter of popular Greek film comedy, drawing the audience into the complicated, to say the least, history of the Bezenoglou family.

In the subsequent scenes, the hilarity builds as the origins of the “family curse” are revealed. Playing multiple roles, the cast members demonstrated their skill, range, and a true ensemble spirit in this charming comedy. Under Katsarou’s direction, the play is a lighthearted, theatrical experience not to be missed.

Ftistos o Makaritis runs for eight more performances, May 3-5, 10-12, 17, and 19, Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, and Sunday, 5 PM, at the Greek Cultural Center, 26-80 30th Street in Astoria. More information is available by phone: 718-726-7329 and online: greekculturalcenter.org.

Penny Fylaktaki, playwright, screenwriter, and translator, was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. She holds a BA (Honors) in English Literature from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, an MA in Translation (Distinction) from the University of Surrey, UK and a PhD in Theatre Translation and Cultural Studies from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Since 2004, 11 of her plays have been staged in Athens, Thessaloniki, and many other cities in Greece, as well as in London, Oxford, and New York. Fylaktaki lives in Athens.

Ioanna Katsarou is a founding member of the Eclipses Group Theater NY and a founding member of Aktis Aeliou Art Theater, honored as “The Best Regional Theater in Greece” by the Greek Critics Association for the year 2006.

Katsarou participated in the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, 2017 and has worked as an actor with the National Theater of Northern Greece (Athens Festival, Herodion Atticus), La MaMa E.T.C., Classic Stage Company/Ashes Company, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Greek Cultural Center NY, New Theater Thessalonikis, Aktis Aeliou Theater, Eclipses Group Theater NY, and others.

Among her leading roles were: Clytemnestra at the Classic Stage Company (off-Broadway), Cassandra at the Ellen Stewart stage of La MaMa (off- Broadway), Queen Atossa at La MaMa, GCC of NY and St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival, Phaedra at the international Delphi Festival for Ancient Greek Drama, Catherine in Suddenly Last Summer, Medea in Medea’s Trilogy by Heiner Muller, and many more (Aktis Aeliou theater).

At the Greek Cultural Center in New York, she has directed the plays: Mommy, Mother, Mom by Giorgos Dialegmenos, and Babies Are Brought by the Stork and In-Laws from Tirana by M. Reppas-T. Papathanasiou. With Eclipses Group Theater NY she has directed the plays Raus! Get Outta Here! (Stathakion Center and National Hellenic Museum in Chicago), Proposal by Anton Chekhov at the Hellenic Cultural Center (HCC), The Princess Goes to War by Ioanna Katsarou (HCC), I Can’t Pay? I Won’t Pay! by Dario Fo (co-director, HCC). She has directed at the Aktis Aeliou theater the play Autobiography-In the opposite direction by Thomas Bernhard, as well as plays by Brecht, Peter Weiss, T. Williams, Fassbinder, Chekhov, and Lorca. She teaches Theater at the Academy of Hellenic Paideia.