Review by Evan Meena
The Zoom Explosion has leveled many playing fields. Broadway actors and emerging artists are the same size on Zoom. Film actors from around the world also look the same on the small screen. One such artist, gaining immense popularity in New York thanks to Zoom is international stage actress, Chrysi Sylaidi. The Greek actress’ tour-de-force one-woman performance in “Bouzoukia Blues,” a play workshopped for more than a decade by acclaimed writer, Maria Micheles. Sylaidi plays an immigrant from Greece in her Astoria, Queens, apartment. The inferred situation – while a decade old – looks a great deal like quarantine. Micheles calaryoinat brings us a chilling compassion between the life of an immigrant in America and all of us in quarantine.
Growing up around the Bouzoukia, and her father’s singing, Billy (Sylaidi) is mesmerized with old Greek tunes. After Billy leaves her home she searches for people to pursue nights at the Bouzoukia. Enthralled with the traditional yet mysterious sounds, she uncovers other things embedded in these melodies including her own culture and history.
Offering up an array of emotions with nothing more than her eyes as indicators and folding clothes as action, Sylaidi gave us a sincere and moving performance, walking the fine line between elation and depression – with longing and loneliness in between. Micheles’ prose cleverly gets to the point while allowing our minds to see the sights so well-displayed by Sylaidi. With little effort, Sylaidi transforms physically from silent immigrant to exuberant woman and back again with nothing more than a shrug or glance.
“Bouzoukia Blues,” part of an evening of Immigrant Women’s Monologues written by playwrights across borders, ages, and genders hosted and curated by Saviana Stanescu entitled Liberty’s Daughters, premiered in June and can now be seen worldwide.