Broken Plates has been extended at the Auto and General Theatre on the Square until Saturday, July 16 – and deservedly so.
You will not regret taking up the invitation to attend this exuberant and, at times, poignant, Greek wedding with all its traditional – and not so traditional – features.
Renos Spanoudes wrote the play, which was nominated for a Naledi Award for Best New South African Play, based on his own experiences and those of his neighbours, which gives his stories a real-life immediacy and depth. They have happened and that is very apparent.
He starts the play by welcoming the audience to his daughter’s wedding. As father of the bride he has been entrusted to explain the intricacies of the occasion, which he does in an enthusiastic, unmistakably and unrepentantly Greek fashion, including briefing us on the correct way to smash the plates, which becomes a symbol of all that follows – joy, pain, happiness, loss, sorrow and exile – the many facets of a life well lived.
In the second story, Spanoudes returns as a series of characters, from a mischievous and vulnerable schoolboy (definitely autobiographical), to a school master, xenophobic teacher and others before whisking us back to the wedding where his glass, presumably of ouzo, is appreciably diminished.
The third story, told by an old woman who came to South Africa from Cypress as a young girl, is the most heart-touching of the trio. She finds family, happiness, contentment and joy, then devastating pain and desolation. It is agonising in its real-life despair.
Back to the wedding and our host is visibly and very happily worse for wear as he demonstrates the technical mastery of plate smashing and the Zorba dance in all its intricate and potential mis-stepping and tripping, then invites the brave and nimble from the audience to attempt the same.
It’s a great party and makes you long for a drop of Greek blood, however far back, so you have the in-born right to dance and smash too. And if you have it, then get going.
This is a celebration of life, joyful and otherwise, and Renos Spanoudes proves himself to be both a highly accomplished actor and an expansive and genial host.
Jennifer de Klerk
Broken Plates runs at the Auto and General Theatre on the Square in Sandton until 16 July 2016.