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  • Kate Gaul

Goodbye, Lindita - Adelaide Festival 2024


Dunstan Playhouse

National Theatre of Greece and Adelaide Festival present director Mario Banushi’s haunting “Goodbye, Lindita”.  Over 70 gripping minutes audiences are treated to a production that is best described as authentic festival fare.  Original, confronting, theatrically astute, and entirely unique.

“Goodbye, Lindita” is a poetic farewell, a visual meditation on mourning. A family experiences grief wordlessly, stupefied by their loss, until a series of extreme events seems to suspend the boundaries between their world and that of the departed Lindita. “I feel like mourning has a silent, almost suffocating quality,” director Mario Banushi writes in his program notes. “This is why it is a performance without words.”Trivial house chores are followed by poetic images and rituals originating from Balkan traditions. In the complete absence of dialogue and no defined characters, we witness a journey, an attempt to answer humanity’s oldest question: how can we reconcile ourselves with death? In “Goodbye, Lindita” the end is also a beginning, and the love shared an eternal sanctuary.

“Goodbye, Lindita” sprung to world-wide attention after a presentation in a converted factory in Athens 2023. Conceived and directed by Mario Banushi, the 24-year-old son of Albanian immigrants, the production was part of a five-day showcase organised by the National Theatre of Greece. Michael Billington of The Guardian wrote, “I was witnessing the emergence of an exciting new talent”.

The show begins with relatives tidying up clothes while vacantly watching television. A chest of drawers unfolds to reveal the stretched-out figure of a naked female corpse. The body is ceremonially bathed, adorned in a mask and sumptuous robes, and placed on a flower-festooned funerary platform. Soon, the relatives, predominantly female, silently gather and slowly start to judder, shake and, in one extreme case, take balletic flight through an open window. Mundanity is expressed and then the searing emotions that sit under avoidance explode through relentless, convulsive, and ritualised movement. Director Mario Banushi uses silence and stillness to great effect.  It is often confronting. A couple of breath-taking coup-de-theatre moments lean into the spectacular, but these are never gross or overplayed. It’s all a dash of theatrical magic.  Everything is poised and we are held lightly as this mysterious event unfolds.

The set, designed by Sotiris Melanos, is a single room that stretches across the entire stage. Tasos Palaioroutas’ golden lighting bleeding in yellow from a hallway or through the window, often with the flimsy curtain fluttering is poetic and ethereal. When coupled with Emmanouel Rovithis’ complex, spectral musical composition the mood is elevated but never overwhelming. Sounds from the real world combine with Balkan rhythms to transport us into this strange netherworld.  The entire experience of death and grief carries its own rituals. The image of the Black Madonna is central. Banushi took his inspiration from an icon he encountered in a church on the island of Kythira. Inside the empty church he found a lone woman kneeling before the icon in prayer. This image stayed with him. A replica of the icon hangs on the wall in “Goodbye, Lindita”. Later, we see her embodied by a performer. This is beautifully presented though also means that the only Black female performer in the piece is relegated to this otherworldly role. The final image is one of the most striking, an elderly woman crawling towards a welcoming and tender Madonna figure.  The final pieta with Black Madonna lingers.

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of 2024.

Kate Gaul


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