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A CurtainUp Review
Part Alfred Hitchcock, part Rod Serling, with just a touch of Neil Simon, Greek Holiday tells the story of a couple's Greek isle vacation through a series of bizarre vignettes. Each of these vignettes ends with a surprise twist, just different enough from the one before to take the audience off-guard.
The vacation was intended to combine work and pleasure. Alex (Tommy Schrider) is a travel writer who specializes in inexpensive vacations. The cheap, makeshift shabbiness of the room he and his wife, Debra (Sarah Knapp) share is proof enough of this. But Alex is eager to have a good time after his work is done, while Debra in each vignette is either unwilling to get out of bed, leave the room or agree to any of Alex's suggestions.
At first it seems that Debra is merely a mean-spirited wet blanket who has lost the ability to find joy in life. Debra is obviously paranoid, delusional and unwilling to take the pills that might keep her emotionally stable. Then it is gradually revealed in successive vignettes that Alex has not exactly been the perfect husband. A while back he had an affair with a sexy, careless and beautiful redhead named Janet (Kathleen McElfresh). The first vignette in the second act makes perfectly clear the intensity of Alex's passion for this woman, the depth of his betrayal and the acuteness of his pain at losing her.
If all this sounds something like a soap opera, remember Simon is at heart a sci fi writer. In his capable hands Greek Holiday never ceases to amaze. What's more Hollis has a topnotch cast made up of three actors who can change directions at a nod of his directorial head. Thus Schrider can be a loving and concerned husband at one moment, a vengeful murder the next; and Knapp swings from manic to depressive as easily as a curtain sways in the breeze.
Greek Holiday is both light-hearted and ominous, but there's a definite surreal quality about it that makes it impossible to take it lightly despite its comic elements and tremendously well exploited irony. It's both light-hearted and ominous. Who amongst us has not taken a vacation that turned into a nightmare? Who has not contemplated murdering a partner who got on our nerves? Can we all honestly say there have not been moments when we regretted our choice of a life partner? Greek Holiday The situations Alex and Debra find themselves in have just enough familiarity to keep audiences laughing in semi-painful recognition. But they are handled with an otherworldly freakishness that jars and startles.
The play never answers the ever-present question: what the heck is going on here anyway? But somehow most members of the audience will leave with a deep feeling of satisfaction.