No Apology for Socrates

Yannis Simonides’ performance earns standing ovation

by Despina Doukas

Yannis Simonides delivered a mesmerizing one-man performance of The Apology to a full crowd at the Dawson Theatre last Saturday night.

The Apology written by Plato is the story of the philosopher Socrates, who must defend himself in the Athenian court against three accusations: that he corrupts the young, that he believes he is wiser than all other men are, and that he does not believe in the Gods of the state, but rather in new demons.

The performance began just after a short introduction by philosophy professor Geraldo Mosquera. Mosquera addressed the audience saying, “Yannis Simonides will play the part of Socrates, and you will play the part of the jury which he addresses.”

Simonides followed with a witty and interactive performance as the audience listened in an almost religious silence. The actor truly brought the audience into the scene, as he made eye contact and spoke directly to each member of the audience, as if they were a member of the jury. This made many audience members live vicariously through the performance, and many members nodded their heads in agreement with Socrates’ clever arguments.

The actor’s playful wit, as his character Socrates argued against his opponent Meletus, contrasted well with the serious tone that he took on, as Socrates pleaded with the jury after his guilty verdict making the audience experience a wide range of emotion.

The costume and set were quite simple, yet offered a subtle elegance to the play, and blended in well, allowing the audience’s attention to lie solely on Simonides’ performance. The subtle sound effects of the court bells and rustle of jury members also added a nice touch to the performance.

The fact that Simonides played the parts of both Socrates and Meletus worked well as he changed his body language and voice to that of a frail old man as he portrayed Meletus, to contrast the bold and sarcastic tone he took on as he played the part of Socrates. When asked about his depiction of the characterMeletus, Simonides said “He was a third rate poet, who was stoned after the trial, and he wasn’t a nice individual so the initial instinct was to make him a ‘poseur’ and a nincompoop.”

The hour and a half long play ended with a unanimous standing ovation from the audience, as Simonides bowed humbly and addressed the crowd saying, “That was a good one. You are a very subtle and clever audience, I don’t know if you would convict me or acquit me!”

The performance ended with a 45-minute Q&A period, in which the audience members congratulated the actor.

“I really loved the performance,” commented audience member Susannah Hoffmann after the show. “Simonides was really funny and natural on stage.”

“I really think he captured the elements of the text, the sarcasm, and the reality of the situation. He brought the situation into the present, and we were able to identify with it. He made everything very real and current. His performance was impeccable,” agreed Yiannis Theodoropoulos. “He even made some audience

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