Thomas Papathanassiou has been doing his one man show Looming the Memory for some time now.
Three seasons in Australia, once in Darwin and Singapore and a recent stint in New York. That’s quite an achievement for an independent performer who produces his own work.
This time round, he has been invited by Antipodes Festival for three shows at three different secondary colleges in the Melbourne suburbs. Papathanassiou is a performer with great physical skills.
He has the definite prerequisite of all solo performers in his ability to switch form one character to another in an instant.
There is a dance like quality, a fluidity and ease with his body that makes his performance style easy on the eye.
The story is a return to his native home in Greece and a recapturing of that time when he was a small child.
Like the title suggests the narrator weaves a multitude of stories in a mediative, almost hypnotic style.
Eccentric relatives, village politics and family mythologies swirl around this Vitruvian man, as if trapped in a kaleidoscope of imagery.
Papathanassiou has a particular skill for impersonating female characters, although his men bleed into each other. His chicken impersonations are impressive.
He was obsessed with these birds when he was little. Cleverly he has given a bobbing, pecking and scratching physicality to all the characters.
The malicious killing of a goat is also very confronting.
My only misgivings about this show, is it sometimes smacks of an actors workshop.
The visceral nature of a parched rural landscape is occasionally lost due to lack of harden physical grunt when Papathanassiou lapses into the realm of ‘being cute’.
I suspect the clean surfaces of a suburban ‘parquetry’ stage may have removed some of original the mud and grit of former seasons.