Effie Stephanides is nothing if not relevant. The instantly recognised, lovable, big-haired, no holds barred, sassy Greek Australian character exposes hard truths, wears her heart on her sleeve and has been teaching us about life and love for the past three decades through her theatre and television shows.
We’ve seen her be dateless and worried about being left on the shelf in A Date With Effie, and celebrated her finding true love after reconnecting with her first kiss Dr Shane Bradley Cooper in Effie The Virgin Bride. Finally, Effie appeared to have her fairytale, content in her love bubble.
Or so it seemed. Instead of sheer marital bliss for the former virgin, a taste of what she has been missing this whole time has unlocked the sexual beast in Effie. As Effie, herself expresses, “Yes I have a Gourmet Main Meal at home. But wouldn’t it be nice to go out for dessert on the odd occasion?”
We are about to find out through Love Me Tinder, the latest offering writer, thespian and comedic genius Mary Coustas has created for her famed character Effie Stefanidis, who we met and fell in love with in the hit television show Acropolis Now, and who has continued to entertain us across all mediums ever since.
“Effie is in love genuinely but she’s also led a very sheltered sexual life. Actually, prior to Shane, a non-existent one. She chose to do that because she was paranoid about exposing her intimate side,” says Coustas.
“Since the honeymoon, she finally understands what the fuss is about with sex. She’s curious but reluctant. She’s fascinated but afraid. And she is adjusting to marriage. To losing her independence and to the everyday routine of married life. She has the 7-month itch. She is facing her biggest challenge right now. Is the grass greener?”
As Effie reveals, “Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, I yielded to the serpent. Shane’s serpent. And it has unleashed a dangerous curiosity in me about what else and who else is out there.”
“Tinder is a Sexual Smorgasbord. It’s the Sizzler of sex. Any type of meat you want, it’s there. Even seafood, if you’re up for it.
“But just because I’ve seen what’s on Tinder doesn’t mean I’m gonna do anything. I’m just having a sniff. I’m just browsing. Can’t hurt can it?” Effie asks.
These are just some of the many concepts that Effie will explore in a show that will have audiences enjoying unbridled laughter out of the bottomless pit of comedic gold the world of online dating provides.
Coustas has managed to achieve the mammoth challenge of keeping Effie relevant, relatable, lovable and hilarious for over three decades, no mean feat when you factor in that her popularity is spread across three generations of both Greeks and non-Greeks.
“So many people are meeting online these days,” says Coustas. The job of comedy is to reflect what’s happening in the world through laughter. To reveal truths. To capture the hypocrisies. And to shed a comical light on the way humans behave.”
“There is a lot of behaviour online. Some romantic and plenty sexual. How we sell our best and attractive ourselves and how much of a myth that can be is often great comedy.”
In Love Me Tinder, Effie holds up a mirror to the complexities of finding love and keeping it in a hilarious look at the hypocrisies of humans when it comes to love, relationships, and sex. How can we humans claim to be evolved and yet still have such animal urges? Is it possible to be smokin’ hot and hit upon every day and still stay faithful?
“These days is it love at first sight or love at first swipe? If love don’t cost a thing then why is divorce so expensive?”
The dating world has covered everything from arranged marriages, blind dates, and meeting online, but what’s better- the proxenio or Tinder?
“The proxenio works if you don’t trust your own taste,” says Coustas. “If you don’t have the confidence. Or if it was 60 years ago. Tinder is the price you pay for your taste. If you are trying to feel confident. And if you think there’s no better way.”
And what does the happily married Coustas think of online dating?
“I think it opens up a whole world of possibilities. Suddenly there’s access to so many people,” she says. “I don’t think it’s a romantic place nor a realistic one. Essentially it’s a marketing exercise. Most of the time people are photoshopping, posing and curating a version of themselves that way too often isn’t a true version of who they are. Often its a fantasy, a game. There’s no room for chemistry or charisma when there are filters and texting involved. Not my ideal way of meeting someone,” she says.
Love Me Tinder
Friday 17 May, Concourse Concert Hall
Saturday 18 May, Factory Theatre
For tickets- sydneycomedyfest.com.au