A WOMAN of many talents – actress, director, entertainer, entrepreneur… the list goes on for Taryn Papadopaulos Louch who graced the Little Theatre stage at the Athenaeum during the National Arts Festival in July 2014 as part of the Second with the comedic piece, Meze Mira and Makeup, directed by Reno Spanaudes.
Meze Mira and Makeup is a one-woman play about a young Greek woman, caught up in the many frustrations of being Greek, of being Greek in South Africa and all that’s implied. Taryn portrays her “meze” of characters – all of whom are the protagonists of Mira’s life – adeptly alternating between them, with simple changes of props or costume.
The modern-day existence of any young adult trailed by the heavy drag of one’s cultural roots, can leave one feeling emotionally drawn-and-quartered, but with a sense of humor anything is possible and this is what is embraced in Meza Mira and Makeup.
We meet Kalomira, as a young woman in her awkward early years at university drama school. She is seeking herself; asking all the difficult questions, like which part of her is her – and which isn’t; what fits? Having been subjected to strict Greek values at home, she never understood how to reconcile her true self with adherence to her parents’ wishes.
In a scene where she is very concerned with an onion, Mira’s mother’s exclaims: “You have to marry a Greek boy Kalomira!” Every Greek woman needs to know the skill of peeling the layers off an onion – and how to feed him.
In response to this Janus-faced cultural world, Mira imagines. She draws us in and out of her fantasy “ideal world”, far removed from Greek norms and their confines, sharing with the audience her secret great love, Vincent, Vincent van Gogh. He is neither real, nor Greek - and no man compares. A picture of him, carried everywhere, represents only the surface of his endearment to her. Thoughts of her dear Vincent make her swoon with passion. All of this adds to the comic relief around cultural conundrums.
Taryn’s imitation of the young Greek folk she engages with, at traditional gatherings had the audience in fits of laughter. Each impersonation, accompanied by displays of uncomfortable dancing, greetings by a long extension of family members, the squeezing of Mira’s pink cheeks and awkward match-making attempts by parents of their daughters to eligible (and available) young men, had the audience in stitches.
Kalomira’s personal transformation throughout the play is best described as hilarious.
Meze Mira and Makeup is defined by a funny, well-received and light-hearted performance by Papadopoulos Louch delivered to perfection.
Reviewed by Sibo Sontsonga-Xego