Eurohouse begins with the audience holding hands in a circle. It is a simple but symbolic act in a piece that takes a sideways look at the once harmonious partnerships created by the European Union, but which have become ridden with exploitation and economic inequality in recent times.
Actors Bertrand Lesca (‘Bert’) and Nasi Voutsas (‘Nasi’) use metaphor to make light of such issues. The charismatic duo partake in a routine of verbal and physical acts: running and dancing, as well as performing minor acrobatic feats. Their relationship is peaceable, supported by their mutual respect and affection, and they are careful to prevent their differences from dividing them: Nasi might lag behind when they run a race but Bert will not cross the finishing line without him.
It calls to mind Mark Ravenhill’s absurdist play Over There, in which the power struggles between two brothers function as a metaphor for the divisions in post-war Germany. Here, the actors’ nationalities are the determiners of the power they wield: Bert is French, forceful and headstrong, while Nasi is Greek and firmly under Bert’s thumb. In the EU, France’s predominance has often been at the expense of smaller states like Greece, who have been barred from political discussion and browbeaten into austerity; in Eurohouse, this is playfully rendered as a friendship turned frosty.
Bert forces Nasi to vomit up the sweets he gives him; later, he forcibly strips Nasi naked and puts on his clothes, nonchalantly strutting about the stage as Nasi quivers silently in a corner. All the while, Bert listens to Michel Sardou’s ‘Comme d’habitude’, whose lyrics tell of the importance of keeping up appearances in a love affair that’s on its knees. The symbolism is overt and the assessment grim, made more alarming by the weaving of statistics into the performance: unemployment in Greece is through the roof, while the bailout money they need flows straight into French banks.
The play concludes with a poignant clip from the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics: a boy, beaming as he glides across the water in a boat, is heralded as a symbol of Greece’s ability for self-determination. But in the decade or so since, we have seen the whittling away of idealism, and the creeping sense of dispossession and injustice across the continent. Perhaps the greatest injustice now is that a post-Brexit Britain can only play passive Chorus to this Greek tragedy.
Eurohouse is playing at the Summerhall until August 26. It is playing at the Camden People’s Theatre later in the year.
Photo: Jack Offord