Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Guillem Clua’s Smiley is stupendously good. It’s warm, heart-felt and human, walking on the very thin line between romance and reality.
Smiley tells the story two different people who meet by accident and fall in love. Do opposites really attract? Bruno is a sophisticated but introvert architect who loves cinema. Alex is handsome, sexy barman who splits his time between gym sessions and a wild party life. Their story begins when Alex leaves a very long message on his ex’s voice mail, which, due to a wrong dial, gets picked up by Bruno.
Smiley is a tender love story that shows how modern romance is shaped by the use of social media and apps and what happens when love starts with the sounds of a computer keyboard. It casts light on the way gay men communicate, flirt and find partners; the tidbits and habits of the gay community.
In the conservative, if not homophobic, environment that modern Greece is, Smiley feels like a small triumph. I think that it is important for everyone to go to the theatre and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And, equally important, everyone should go to the theatre and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them. Because perhaps then they will learn from them. Smiley ultimately tells about the fear we feel when we fall in love as well as the fear that we might be unworthy of love.
Dimitris Makalias and Minos Theoharis are two uber-talented young Greek actors that deliver line after line with wit and well-balanced mix of cynicism and tenderness. I loved the way that they managed to play Bruno and Alex in a authentic, wholesome manner that distances itself from the stereotypical image of the gay man celebrated by modern TV and film.
Smiley is having its last show this Wednesday – if there are any tickets left, go grab them! If not, I’m told that it has been frequently (and spontaneously) re-run in the past so keep an eye out for it. You can thank me later.
Smiley by Guillem Clua (translation into Greek: Maria Chatziemmanouil), Theatro Αvaton, Athens.