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Agapi & Other Kinds of Love - Riverside Theatres (NSW)

Created, written, co-directed and performed by Luka Lesson, with music composed by James Humberstone.

 

Reviewed by Chanele Mao

Riverside Theatres Parramatta

Season 29 February – 1 March 2024 (the show is touring, see dates and locations below)

 

How beautiful to fall in love as the world falls apart – Luka Lesson

 

Luka Lesson’s Agapi & Other Kinds of Love paints a kaleidoscopic picture of love in its various forms taking us on a journey to ancient Athens, Greece in 1416 BC where we meet the Greek Philosopher, Plato, and his muse and lover, Diotima. Time flips then shifts to the present day, where we meet the modern-day lovers, Sophia and Pávlos. Their fragile love encounters adversity under the backdrop of political instability, riots and Molotov cocktails.

 

As I walked into the theatre, my eyes sight a mega screen awash with a brilliant cobalt blue reminiscent of the Aegean Sea. Paired with mystical music, the stage transports you to the world of make-believe.


Agapi & Other Kinds of Love at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. Images by Sam Clarke.

 

Agapi is unique – it is a mix of rap, hip-hop, poetry and music, reminding me of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Lesson describes the show as “a poetry & hip hop theatre show inspired by the Ancient Greek words of love”. Plato in The Symposium talked about the seven types of love which feature in Agapi:

 

1.      Eros – romantic love 

2.      Storgi – familial love

3.      Filoxenia – the love of strangers or foreigners

4.      Filia – love of friendship

5.      Filautia – self-love

6.      Pragma – long lasting love e.g. an old couple still in love

7.      Agapi – universal love, unconditional love, love from God – Godly love.

 

Agapi is essentially a story about the strongest emotion known to humans, love.

 

The set resembles a dark alley or slum – there are stacks of milk crates, rolled up newspapers, and forklift pallets. This creates the aesthetics of the modern day where riots have befallen the city of Athens.

 

The composer James Humberstone weaved into the story an intricate web of eerie and upbeat scores combined with various musical instruments such as the violin and erhu. The musicians and vocalists, Greta Kelly and May Lyn Chew also played well together to carry the story forward. Chew’s performance of the lovers’ song with Lesson was a crowd favourite. It felt like basking in the limelight of a little nightingale singing its heart out to its soul mate.

 

Agapi has threads of politics, history, philosophy and civil war with a love story at the centre of the storm. Lesson is a passionate and multifaceted artist. Born in Australia to Greek-Australian parents, he pays homage to his Greek roots and even taught himself Greek to immerse himself thoroughly in Greek culture and history.

 

If you enjoy an ancient history lesson, rap poetry, hip pop music and a splash of romance, see it where you can! 


 

The show runs for approximately 1 hour and 20 mins.


Creator, Writer, Co-Director, Lead Performer Luka Lesson

Music Composer James Humberstone

Co-Director Sam Foster

Producer Vyvienne Abla

Composer James Humberstone

Musician & Vocalist Greta Kelly

Lighting Designer Laura Jade

Studio Photo Credit Sam Clarke

Originally Commissioned by La Boite Theatre, Bleach Festival and the National Museum of Australia

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