Ploutos is the Greek god of wealth. In the play he is personified as a blind man. Our hero, a farmer called Chremylos, and his servant stumble upon him and, after a little light bullying, take him home. Wealth is blind so he can’t discriminate between the deserving and undeserving. But our farmer has other ideas and a visit to a shrine sees Wealth’s sight restored. This occasions a visit from the god of poverty, who advises against Wealth and in favour of learning from hardship. Nevertheless, the miraculous restoration of Wealth’s sight results in a transformation amongst all those visiting the farmer, with good people rewarded and others ridiculed.
This new production by Thiasos theatre company in a new translation by David Wiles is bouncy, energetic and huge fun. The stylised costumes and make up are a real treat, adding humour and a touch of warmth to the characters. And how wonderful to be in a theatre again and hear the band tuning up! Yes, we have real live musicians (many of whom double up as members of the large cast of characters) playing delightful ‘Greek’ music from musical director Manuel Jimenez. For those of us denied our annual pilgrimage to a Greek island this summer, this added another layer of wistful enjoyment to the piece. On top of that there are musical numbers and even some Greek dancing (although no broken plates!).
The performances are big and bold like the costumes and make up. Our narrator is Chremylos’s servant Carion, played by Salv Scarpa. He has an appealing stage presence and brilliant clarity and power in his voice, immediately getting us into the play. Like all the other performers, he uses movement a great deal. This keeps the whole thing feeling alive, vibrant and intimate, despite the cast having to keep back further from the audience than they otherwise might have. Oengus Mac Namara plays both Wealth and Poverty which great gravitas, which Charles Sobryy as Chremylos plays against delightfully, reminiscent of Percy’s relationship with Blackadder.
This large company has made a serious investment in this play and the quality and love they have for the material shines through in the performance. How they make it work financially for a small, socially distanced audience I don’t know, but thanks go to The Space for making this happen and for looking after us so well.
Ploutos is at The Space until Saturday 3rd October, after which you can catch it in Poland!