Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 7th June 2019
The Greek word “taxithi” translates into English as “journey”. Yet in the way of Greek words, it evokes so much more than mere movement. It encompasses yearning, sorrow, optimism and hope, along with grief and loss. It is the word which sums up the experience of almost any migrant.
In the 50s and 60s many Greek migrants came to Australia, and in particular to Melbourne, which became known as “the Athens of the south”. They made the taxithi to this new land, and in so doing, enriched our culture beyond measure.
But who are the people behind the demographics? In this beautifully structured work, writer Helen Yotis Patterson has put together stories of Greek women who came in these waves: some escaping the war; some escaping the totalitarianism of 60s Greece; some sent out here to marry strangers. The stories are told simply, and with a moving authenticity, by performers Maria Mercedes, Artemis Ioannides and Patterson herself. Each story leads into a Greek song, delivered by three extraordinary voices. Musical director and pianist Andrew Patterson, and bouzouki-master Jacob Papadopoulos, have put together a rich musical experience, which fills the space without overwhelming it. This story-song structure never becomes stilted or predictable: each moment flows inexorably into the next. Emotion is layered through both narrative and music. The fact that all songs are sung in Greek, and that the English script is scattered with Greek words or phrases, actually adds to the meaning, rather than detracting from it.
Simply and sympathetically directed by Petra Kalive, Taxithi is an extraordinary and moving show, demonstrating that cabaret can be serious, whilst also being highly entertaining. These are the stories of migrants: but they are also the stories of many, many women. It is a cris-de-coeur for understanding and a timely reminder of the strength, passion and depth that migration brings to any land.
Take your yiayia, take your tissues, and take your open heart.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Rating out of 5: 5 Cabaret perfection.
Venue: Space Theatre
Season: June 8th 8.15 pm
Duration: 70 minutes