None-too-bright Dimitri (Cameron Leese), father Nicky (Kim Taylor) and pregnant daughter Jenna (Valerie Dragojevic) at odds in It’s All Greek To Me.
TYPICALLY used to highlight not understanding, the phrase “it’s all Greek to me” now lends itself to the title of a play premiering at the Old Mill Theatre in May.
Written by WA playwright Noel O’Neill and directed by Valerie Dragojevic, hilarity turns to disaster in a comedy of errors set in 1960s London when a man makes a promise he cannot keep.
It’s All Greek To Me is the story of Nicky Plankos who celebrates with a bottle of ouzo one night and suddenly gets a call from his lonely cousin Stavros in Greece. In his drunken state, Nicky promises him a wife – leading to hilarious and sometimes disastrous results.
“My inspiration for the play came from the Greeks I grew up with in London in the late ’50s and 60s,” O’Neill said. “It’s All Greek To Me is a tribute to the era.
“I was – and still am – a huge fan of Anthony Quinn who I saw play Zorba The Greek at the movies. I fell in love with how passionate it all seemed and how passionate these Greeks were with their music and dancing.”
O’Neill moved to New York in his late teens and studied acting with Lee Strasberg, appearing in many off-Broadway productions.
Nicky (Kim Taylor, left) with the local clairvoyant Andronikus (Rex Gray) in the world premiere of It’s All Greek To Me.
Since moving to Perth 12 years ago, he has worked with the Old Mill and KADS Theatres, Graduate Dramatic Society and Irish Theatre Players. O’Neill has won numerous awards for his work and currently lectures for the WA Academy of Performing Arts and Perth Actors’ Collective.
“The most interesting aspect of It’s All Greek To Me is watching characters gradually change as the play develops,” he said. “There are lessons to be learnt through their mistakes – the rest is up to the gods.”
Director Valerie Dragojevic (who also plays Jenna) brought O’Neill’s Snow and Ash to life last year, winning several awards at Dramafest, the annual state drama festival.
“It’s All Greek To Me is a slice of high comedy from life,” she said. “It has a philandering husband with a suicidal wife and a son who’s one olive short of a Greek salad.
“I haven’t directed comedy before and was keen to try it out. It’s so much fun, compared to dark drama, and inspires laughter – we all need to laugh more.”
Dragojevic said the main challenge lies in finding the truth in each character and ensuring it is expressed.
Nicky (Kim Taylor, left) tries to resist the flirtatious charms of Circe (Nada Dilevska) in It’s All Greek To Me this May.