Epidaurus

Our day in Epidaurus was sheer perfection. After arriving at our hotel in Agioi Theodoroi, we had a bit of time to relax by the beach. The clear blue waters of the Mediterranean tapered into the distance and melded with the cloud-free skies like something out of a Neruda poem. The only downside of the beach was the sea urchins, my newest irrational fear. Luckily, I didn’t step on any.

We left on the bus and headed out for a two-hour bus ride through the lush mountains towards the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, one of the oldest still-functioning Greek theatres. to see the National Theatre of Greece’s collaborative production with the National Theatre in Belgrade of Aristophanes’ political satire, Plutus. The play follows a Greek farmer Chremylus, who has recently visited the Oracle of Delphi in hopes of better fortunes and been tasked with taking home the first stranger he comes across, who happens to be a blind beggarly old man. Much to his good fortune, it’s actually Plutus, god of wealth. Chremylus and his servant Cario seek to cure Plutus’ blindness in hopes of giving money to the deserving, encountering obstacles from Poverty, who warns them of the chaos that might ensue.

Shuffling into our stone-slab seats, we could get a picturesque view of the rosy-orange sunset lining the mountains in the background. The set was minimal, with nothing onstage but barrels of hay. This adaptation took several liberties to comment on Greece’s recent financial crises but also provided many brash slapstick moments true to the play’s origins. Even though the play was in Greek (with subtitles to help), the play was a good reminder of how comedy can really transcend language’s boundaries. The music from the Orchestra of the National Theatre in Belgrade, who served as the chorus, was enjoyable as well.

After visiting the Theatre of Dionysus earlier in the day, I really appreciated the opportunity to see an actual performance in the birthplace of drama. One of my favorite moments of the show wasn’t onstage but above it. Seeing the stars mid-performance was breathtaking. I just imagined what it must have been like for the Ancient Greeks many centuries ago to be able to look at these same heavenly bodies and tell stories that have entertained and been passed down for generations. As profound as all that sounds, this production also served as a reminder of how timeless the dick joke is.

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