Onassis is a new play at the Novello Theatre and it was our priveledge to attend one of the preview performances. It’s not often that you get the chance to look into the life of a billionaire and wonder what makes them tick.
In this play about Aristotle Onassis, the story is inspired by the relationship between Onasiss (Robert Lindsay) and his lover Maria Callas ( Anna Francolini) and his secnd wife Jackie Kennedy (Lydia Leonard). It plays up the sensationalised aspects of his life in a Hello Magazine kind of way, it’s all about Sex, Money and Power.
Not knowing what to expect, this was quite entertaining to begin with. The stage is set like a Greek Taverna with a shallow pool of water at the front of the stage, which I suppose doubles up as the sea and also a metaphor maybe? More on that later. There is also this strange blue metal frame around the stage, which looked like a temporary awning but maybe it was to give the impression of the blue skies of Greece. Who knows. Again, a lot of video projection was used to show waves and a very clever diagram of the interconnected relationships of the protagonists.
Robert Lindsay held his own in this role, albeit with a strange accent, definitely not a Greek accent. Saying that, the cast all had strange accents ranging from a German / Eastern European one (Yianni) to a kind of Italina hybrid, which was very distracting. I think Robert Lindsay did try to highlight just how surreal this man was, complicated but driven by his quest for power and revenge. One of the things that the cast kept doing was to dip into this pool of water and wash their hands and face in it. Yuck, quite disgusting, especially when you know someone walks in it nightly.
The storyline of power, sex and revenge is a universal one and it fascinates the human curiosity. In parts, the play moved along way too slowly, with my friends commenting that just before the intermission, they almost fell asleep. I think with a bit of dialogue that is not necessary to the plot be shortened, this would have been much improved.
The women who played the 2 lovers had relatively minor roles, showing a contrast to their characters. Maria was played in an understated way and it was most distracting when she walked in that pool of water dragging her silk kimono. Didn’t see the point in that at all.
It was an entertaining insight into the life of Onassis.
This play is on a limited run at the Novello Theatre in Covent Garden.
You can buy tickets from here LondonTheatreDirect.com
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