Prague Fringe 2012
Kassandra is fun, sexy, transgressive, worn at the edges and somehow fresh.
The poster of Kassandra wouldn’t have gotten me into the show. It looks a bit angsty, a bit 90s. The idea of a transexual prositute talking about all her johns wouldn’t have gotten me into the show. But I do really like the character Cassandra from the house of Atrius cycle. And while drunk at the Fringe Bar one night I was dragged across the room to meet the enchanting Despina Sarafeidou and had it insisted to me that Kassandra was a show to watch in the Prague Fringe. It’s lucky then that when I’m sober I fulfil the promises I make while inebriated. Kassandra is both moving and fun. I knew I had made the right decision at a point in the show were I was watching Bugs Bunny in high heels read The Trojan Women in ancient Greek.
Despina knows how to handle an audience like a well experienced prostitute knows how to handle a man. You’re always safe but constantly on the verge of being tested. She looks every audience member in the eye and makes them offers. You can buy a packet of cigarettes during the show for 75 crowns. That’s a lot cheaper than I can get them in Australia, but unfortunately I don’t smoke. After this little sale within the show, Kassandra begins to talk about her family. A very famous ancient Greek family. But time is displaced here. We’re never quite sure if we’re in ancient Greece or some modern city. It’s never clear if this is really Kassandra or a male to female prostitute who relates to Kassandra. Everything is said in delicate broken english. The language and the meaning it conveys are both fragile. The whole show is endearing. Somehow Despina talks about big dicks and hard screws without losing a sense of innocence and kindness.
The plays unravels itself slowly removing veil after veil to reveal the sadness of Kassandra’s love- the incest with her handsome brother, the cruelty of her superiors, and ultimately her death. Mirroring the ancient Kassandra, this one makes a choice to move knowingly towards her death (this time in a taxi). Her gift for prediction cannot save her. Perhaps she chooses not to be saved. There is a warmth and bravado in her character that is eventually undercut by the reality that she chooses not to live. Much like Greece, Kassandra has been around forever and perhaps her wounds and bad decisions have become too much to bear. She has indulged too much. But it doesn’t feel like there was any other way. She had to end up here. It’s who she is.
Kassandra is a unique viewing experience. I have rarely seen a performer so flexible and calm while interacting with an audience. If you get a chance to see this show, take it. It’s a beautifully crafted, deeply intelligent work with a strong, cryptic script. It has lead me to many conversations with other audience members.