Unlike the eponymous Three Sisters of Chekov’s play, the women in Lysistrata band together and take some control over the circumstances of their lives. After watching The Three Sisters last night, I watched the U of A Drama production of Lyistrata this afternoon and found the contrast satisfying.
It is also ridiculously funny and outrageously crude.
The adaptation from Aristophanes’ original was by Robert Brustein. Jeff Page (recently of RDC, where he directed Comedy of Errors this fall) directed. The cast members were from the BFA Acting class of 2015, and the play was performed on the Corner Stage of the U of A Fine Arts Building, an interesting intimate space with steep carpeted risers and higher-level performance areas around the outside of the room. I was particularly amused by the characterisations of Lampito the Spartan woman (Nikki Hulowski), Penelope wife of Odysseus (Morgan Yamada), and by the comic timing and stage business of Kinesias (Hunter Cardinal). The title role of Lysistrata was played with contrasting gravitas by Natalie Davidson, and I am particularly looking forward to seeing her act in more serious material in future.
The Facebook invitation to the event promised “free”, “fun, laughs, and phalluses”, and the play lived up to its billing. When the audience entered the room, most of the cast was dancing around the room with glee and abandon to electronic dance music, wearing costumes of ancient Greece. They then gathered on stage and dedicated the auditorium to Dionysus “with its original name, the Thrust Stage”. The ending of the play was somewhat surprising to me, but I was still chuckling when I left.