Maverick Life

Maverick Life

Theatre review: Broken Plates

Theatre review: Broken Plates

Using broken plates as a metaphor for broken lives works very neatly in a play by Greek-Cypriot Joburger Renos Spanoudes. Reviewed by LESLEY STONES.

Plates are with us throughout our lives, for meals and sharing food with friends, acting as repositories for fiddly bits and pieces of household stuff, or being displayed to commemorate an occasion or an achievement.

The Greeks are notorious for smashing plates at weddings and suppers, and Broken Plates kicks off with Spanoudes playing the father of a bride at a wedding where a lot of crockery is stacked up ready to be decimated.

You can break a plate in exuberance to get rid of too much happiness and make room for more, he says, or break a plate to get rid of too much sadness and shatter the evil spirits. Handy things to have around then, as long as you buy in bulk.

Spanoudes wrote and stars in this one-man show in which a few scenes have him exploring life from different vantage points.

The father of the bride scene is a gentle reminiscence rather than any serious exploration of feelings or events. It’s a nice ramble down a made-up memory lane, woven through with references to Zorba the Greek and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Just as you wonder whether the whole show is going to be ?this character talking to us, the lights dim and he pops up into another guise, a teacher with some unruly kids.

The play’s most poignant moments come now, when Spanoudes takes himself back to a childhood and weaves a story that draws the audience in. He’s engrossing as he re-enacts a kid’s delight with a little kitten, remembering the broken plate he used to serve it milk.

There’s a lovely attention to detail in his voice and actions, and in the costumes and props on this simple stage set.

Another scene has the traditional Greek widow, wrapped in a headscarf and baggy skirt, exuding misery without even needing to speak. Her tale is sorrowful and continues the moving moments created in the earlier scene, but it loses some impact by running on too long. Tighter editing to trim both that and the opening act would heighten the dramatic element and keep things more engaging.

The final scene lifts the mood again by returning to the wedding with the audience invited on stage to break some plates and dance to Zorba.

It’s an interesting evening with some patches of jollity, some Greek tragedy and an awful lot of broken pieces to sweep up. Well, I guess that’s life. DM

Broken Plates runs at Sandton’s Auto & General Theatre on the Square until July 9. Book on 011-883-8606 or at


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