By Nadia Asencio
How does a warrior find her cause? Easy. She takes the long way. Anthoula Katsimatides’ “Warrior Without a Cause” recounts her arduous journey to discover and rediscover her true calling in life. Ms. Katsimatides proves the adage that “good company on a journey makes the way seem shorter.” Her vibrant delivery, engaging characters, and brave candor make witnessing her journey a worthwhile trip. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn you: the highs in her story are very high, but the lows… well. Bring Kleenex.
Laughs ensue as Ms. Katsimatides storms in and gleefully proclaims that she is “destined for greatness,” a sentiment no doubt formed by growing up in a loving and supportive home. But being the only daughter in a large Greek family had its own challenges: a mildly oppressive and traditionally patriarchal culture; a strict and domineering (although endearing) father who oversaw and policed her every move; an overachieving mother who subordinated her own ambitions to her culture’s expectations (and expected her daughter to do the same); and three brothers (two older, one younger) who provided all sorts of well‑meaning yet unsolicited advice. Ms. Katsimatides generously fleshes out these characters with wit and veracity, giving the audience a glimpse into her internal struggle; her family was as easy to love as they were to resent.
As Anthoula matures, so do the conflicts, and so does the comedy. She’s expected to find a suitable husband without dating (a female belongs to her father until marriage); to succeed academically and professionally without taking pride in her accomplishments (it’s unfeminine); and to forge her own way in the world, but only in a manner acceptable to her community (“What will people think?”). These contradicting expectations create a split personality in young Anthoula. Two personalities are at constant odds with each other: her tough, independent American side versus her sweet, malleable Greek side. Failing to reconcile the two, young Anthoula does it all: she learns to lie and use her father’s words against him to get what she wants, while frantically fulfilling all of the societal expectations placed upon her. A fantastically high achiever, just like Mom.
Amid amusing stories of failed relationships and successful career developments, Anthoula and her family are faced with the first of many agonizing losses when her younger brother Mikey takes his own life. Years later, her brother John is killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11. And years after that, her father succumbs to an illness ironically contracted at a hospital. Having survived so much tragedy, Anthoula is surprised and grateful to meet the love of her life, enjoying a deep and singular connection with “the perfect man,” only to have him suddenly and inexplicably abandon the relationship. Ms. Katsimatides lays bare her raw emotions at each telling, her narrative not so much a performance as a confession; hard to witness but impossible to turn away from.
Looking back on all of the events that have shaped her, Anthoula finds both her purpose and her strength: to love deeply and totally, no matter how much pain that love exposes her to. To give all, no matter the cost. Valor found only in a true warrior.
Director Christine Renee Miller successfully tackles a nuanced and complicated piece, keeping all of its power intact without succumbing to over‑dramatization. Media Engineer Athan Hilaki elegantly hits every mark, discreetly fusing the technical aspects of storytelling to the narrative, perfectly supporting Ms. Katsimatides’ remarkable work. “Warrior Without a Cause” instills faith in the human heart, encouraging us to fight the good fight even to the bitter end.
“Warrior Without A Cause”
Written and Performed by Anthoula Katsimatides
Oct. 12 at 6pm, Oct. 13 at 2pm, Oct. 14 at 7:30pm
Photo: courtesy of the production
United Solo 2018
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
NADIA ASENCIO is a first-generation Cuban American playwright, artist, and founder of The Scarlet Harlot Theatre Co. which chronicles the journeys of Hispanic and Black women. Her work can be found at www.nadiaasencio.com. She resides in NYC.