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The bizarre world of Euripides Laskaridis - Julidans opens with guts

After a year of forced inactivity, Julidans kicked off yesterday under the slogan Never Stop Dancing. And so do the wondrous creatures that populate Elenit, the opening night in the hands of Euripides Laskaridis. His Elenit is a universe of grotesque and sometimes endearing characters held hostage by a huge windmill on stage. Against their will, they carry on, whether they lose a leg or are besieged by a dinosaur in stiletto heels. What you want to see in it all is up to the viewer. Laskaridis does not like to dictate what it is about, his company is not called Osmosis for nothing: it is about the exchange between audience and theatre.

Although there are plenty of laughs - sometimes even too many - the performance starts with an image that could have been plucked straight out of the latest Twin Peaks: strobe light, loud noise and a shiny metal plate. I expect a fierce, committed sequel but prove wrong very quickly. Sure, it is intense and it does refer to the Greek crisis, but much more playful and farcical than that scene suggests.

Aphrodite with pendulous breasts

It all revolves around Aphrodite, in a huge shell dress with pendant breasts, a mask and a distorted voice. She is reading from a book - is it a Greek tragedy? Or when I hear the name Euripides and any text, do I immediately think of the classics, as if more than 25 centuries have not passed in Greece too? In any case, his Aphrodite is not inferior to classical heroines. She gets caught up in a world of murder and violence before she will have to die herself. The hilarious death scene is a masterstroke, the other characters give clues on how things should be done, and she herself begs from the audience for applause for her artful last breath.

In a nutshell, that is the power of Elenit. Nothing is what it seems. The title refers to asbestos concrete corrugated sheets that were widely used in Greece in the 1960s, until it became clear how deadly they are.

Corrugated sheets, but of light metal or transparent plastic, are crucial in the setting. It's in the opening scene, recurring in a kind of Acropolis of corrugated iron being built. The plastic variant is lugged around. Like the deadly variety: it's everywhere, but you don't see it right away.

Corrugated sheets

That asbestos concrete, says Laskaridis, looked super Greek but wasn't. The show plays with this, we see the sirtaki , Greek geometric motifs on the newsreel, another Nikè rolls by. And so a dinosaur in stiletto heels. A hint that the Greece we are thinking of is also long extinct and the country is in the same century as the rest of the world? The DJ booth on stage suggests so.

The appeal of Elenit is that you can dig endlessly for meanings and always be right. For me, it was about expectations, gender and national identities and what theatre is or can be. Big themes. The enormous schmoozing of all the actors sometimes gets in the way of that, it is sometimes just a little too long or too lollygagging. Then again, the final scenes are so right, all that is forgiven. Slowly, all the characters turn into grumpy old men and even Aphrodite loses her shine, shell dress and mask.

In the end, we see the people coming out from under their masks. The real, strong, fragile people.

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Julidans is still on until 16 June at various locations in Amsterdam. See here for programme information and tickets.

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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