Another welcome batch of Sunday Times Culture mags courtesy of the Maffins of Huddersfield. Interesting, reading a film review made me wonder again if the “there are only eight basic plots in the world” is true. Maybe one day I will try and list them or would that be a waste of time? The review is of a film called ‘Wake Wood.’ You just know it’s going to be a horror whenever “wood” is in the title, woods are dark magical eerie places, but it’s the basic idea that caught my imagination because it is all about a couple bringing their child back from the dead. How many time has this basic plot been exploited I wonder? I can think of at least two though I am sure there must be more. The first I know of is that little one-act play “The Monkey’s Paw” which I first came across when it was produced at my high school. The second is Steven King’s “Pet Semantary."
When I give my acting workshop to the local amateurs later this year I have no doubt I will mention those moments in the theatre that have remained vividly in the mind all these years: King Lear at the old King’s Theatre, Hammersmith, Donald Wolfitt’s entrance with the dead Cordelia in his arms, also in Hammersmith at the old Lyric Theatre the death of Edward 11 in Marlowe’s play, Jocasta’s suicide in the Peter Brooke production of Oedipus at The Old Vic. All these in the fifties. On a more jocular side, Don Pasquale, a production in Denmark when Pasquale and Doctor Malatesta are having a right old go at each other in a duet watched by a manservant. The entire theatre was in stitches and I don’t think I have ever laughed so much and at what? Not at the two principal figures working their guts off downstage right and left but at the manservant upstage centre, and what was he doing? Nothing overt, merely listening to the argument and completely stealing the scene. I’ve wondered where, as a director I would place him to lessen his impact. Obviously upstage centre was wrong if the audience were meant to concentrate on the two principals downstage. I haven’t come to any conclusion but what a happy memory. Now I can add another unforgettable performance, not in the theatre this time but on television. I think I might have mentioned it before but it bears mentioning a second time. The performance I refer to was by the actress Gioulika Stafida, in the series based on Victoria Hislop’s book “The Island.” Not only is Gioulika the most beautiful women (the camera adores her) but an actress par excellence. Her performance was extraordinary. From the moment she discovers the sore on her leg and realises just before her wedding that she has contracted leprosy and she must go to the island, she had me blubbing like a baby. Oh, come on Glyn, this is television for God’s sake. Maybe so, maybe so, but unforgettable nevertheless. The whole series is unforgettable, one of the best things I have ever seen on the box, riveting even though one’s Greek is so limited.
The reason I mention this is that last week we went into Xania to a comprehensive exhibition about the series. Douglas was allowed out of hospital for the evening - he wasn’t going to miss it for the world – and it was worth attending with photographs, costumes, designs, models, prosthetics etcetera and what is more I got to meet the divine Gioulika who is as beautiful in the flesh (as it were) as she is on screen only I was surprised to find her smaller, more slender, waiflike even, as on screen she appears much more solid.
Her personality is delightful and bubbling and, in between talking to us, she was quite happy to have her photograph taken innumerable times by fans. She informed me that she is going into The National Theatre in Athens so, if ever I make it there, that will be first port of call.
How I would love to see her in one of great roles for women in classical plays: Clytemnestra, Cassandra, Antigone, Medea, Phaedra, Electra, Iphigenia, though maybe she is a bit young for some of these. Even so I think she would be brilliant. You can tell, can you not she has completely stolen my heart?
Happy birthday Ceri Wiercx.