By Carissa Chesanek
Grief can mean many different things to people. Pain, suffering, anger. And sometimes it can even mean freedom.
“The Prostitute Upstairs” takes us into the world of Erato, a Greek housewife who had just lost her husband. When we first meet her, she dons a black dress and veil, and stands wide-eyed in the center of her dining room. Her look and stillness exemplify sorrow. But it is not sorrow for the deceased that Erato feels. It is sadness for her own life, the one she never got to live.
Erato casually tells stories of her childhood and adulthood while sipping red wine and nibbling boiled meat. All her life, she is told that a woman’s place is in the home, taking care of her husband and children. Her father is abusive, if not physically then emotionally. He laughs at her dream of attending university to become a language teacher. As she grows into a young woman, she stays home with her mother and knits, all the while wondering whether she was meant to spend the rest of her life “watching the joy of others.”
Her husband, a corrupt cop, treats her with love and respect at first, but quickly turns into a monster that resembles her father. She is in a new home with a new man, but encounters the same problems as before. She feels she does not really exist in the world.
But something changes when a prostitute moves in upstairs. Erato becomes instantly enthralled by the other woman’s continuous lovemaking and the pleasurable noises of the men. She wonders what it would be like to be with other men. Would they pay to be with her? Was she beautiful enough to be desired by others in the middle of the night?
After Erato suffers a miscarriage, she believes her husband is at fault. She begins to have visions of his death. Erato’s prayers are soon answered when, late one night, she learns from her husband’s partner that there had been an accident. Her husband was dead. Erato couldn’t be happier. We watch her pretend with others, crying about her loss over the phone, while secretly dabbing her lips in ruby red lipstick and slithering out the door in a tight dress, feeding off her curiosities and finally living her life.
Touching, funny, and powerful, Erato is a character that will stay with you. This modern tragicomedy shows that absence comes in many forms. Sometimes, all we need is a hooker knocking boots upstairs for us to realize what we had been missing.
“The Prostitute Upstairs”
Performed by Elena Crociani
Oct. 13 at 4pm
Playwright: Antonis Tsipianitis
Director: Albert Baker
Translator: Dimitris Fragkogiannis
Photo: courtesy of the production
United Solo 2018
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
CARISSA CHESANEK is a professional writer with a Master’s in Journalism. Her journalism career has allowed her to work with publications, including BroadwayWorld.com, Show-Score.com, Zagat, Food Network, and Forbes Travel Guide. Currently, she is getting her MFA in Creative Writing at The New School. Her creative writing has been seen in Writing Raw and nominated for the Freddie Award for Writing Excellence with the Mystery Writers of America.