NEW YORK – The audience at the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on June 26 was impressed by the powerful performance of Demetrios Lalos in Hector’s Katharsis. The text of the play is from Homer’s Iliad, focusing on the passages relating to the Trojan prince Hector. While Hector’s tragic fate is generally familiar through various adaptations and translations, the story was truly brought to life in Lalos’ dynamic presentation with evocative music by Alex Kotsopoulos who performed live onstage.
Lalos is perhaps best known as the star of the popular Greek TV series Sasmos and his many fans in attendance at the Queens Theatre were perhaps not aware of Lalos’ longstanding fascination with Homer’s epics and especially the character of Hector. Prior to the performance, Lalos, who also directed the play, spoke candidly with the audience about the development of this production, noting that Homer comes from the oral tradition, so the text is best experienced as spoken word, heard, rather than read. It is also a shame to only learn the Homeric epics through film adaptations, he pointed out, since Homer has so much to teach us about human nature. Lalos said that the ancient Greek tragedians grew up listening to the Homeric epics and these stories were the basis of Greek tragedy. He quoted Aeschylus who said that his works were the crumbs of Homer.
Lalos demonstrated his powerful stage presence from the moment he stepped onstage and gave his opening introduction which included flashes of his keen wit and also insights into the text and the characters, among them, Andromache, Hector’s wife, who, he noted, is the most tragic figure ever as her father, seven brothers, her husband, and her infant son are all killed in the course of the Trojan War and then she is taken as a slave and concubine after the fall of Troy by Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, her husband’s killer.
The moments featuring Andromache and Hecabe, Hector’s mother, are among the most moving of the entire play. Priam’s effort to retrieve the corpse of his dead son was also emotionally authentic as Lalos skillfully navigates between the characters and Achilles finally relents and Hector’s body is returned to his family for proper burial.
The intense scenes were heightened by Kotsopoulos’ music as he performed on cello, trumpet, and percussion with some vocals during key moments. A gifted musician, he played a few pieces on cello by Bach as the audience waited for a few latecomers to arrive and during a microphone change for Lalos.
The audience applauded enthusiastically at the conclusion, looking forward to seeing Lalos perform live again soon and, of course, in Sasmos which is set to resume filming soon for its upcoming season. It should be noted that the play was also performed in Boston on June 25 at the Maliotis Cultural Center where it received a standing ovation from the appreciative audience.
Among those present at the Queens Theatre for the June 26 performance were His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Consul of Greece Dimitris Papageorgiou, Atlantic Bank President Nancy Papaioannou, and The National Herald’s co-publisher-editor Vanessa Diamataris.