LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes adapted by David Stuttard.
Actors of Dionysus Tour to 26 November 2010.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
Review: Mark Courtice 7 October at New Theatre Royal Portsmouth.
Actors of Dionysus are experts in touring miniature versions of Greek classics. Now they’re doing a comedy, making work from the beginnings of theatre direct, urgent and very funny.
From the scaffolding in front of a building site Lucy (Lysistrata) encourages the women of Greece to join a sex strike so as to force the men to give up war. Just to press home the point they take over the Treasury too. Not that it’s easy; the women are tempted to revoke, and it’s outstandingly obvious as the men’s frustration mounts.
Aristophanes, sympathetic adaptor David Stuttard and director Mitch Mitchelson all know the value of a good knob gag so the show is stuffed with them. But the jokes have a point, and the balls to take on some pillars of the establishment. From the start, which refers to the mournful parades at Wootton Bassett, to the profligate use of "Do Not Cross" tape as both costume and set, this is a modern version meant to remind us that the names may have changed since Aristophanes’ day, but the message is the same.
The production is cheerfully chaotic. A hard-working company of five plays all the parts, a broad brush being the style of choice. There’s some good fun with stereotypes, both regional and ageist, and some filthy wit. The scene where Myrrhine denies her desperate husband by seeming to attend to his comfort is genuinely funny.
The company could trust the script more; they obscure some gags with a funny voice when Stuttard’s jokes are good enough to get by without. The physicality is often confident and clever (there’s a brilliant fight played as tango), although it’s a shame that the scaffolding framework is not used as much as it might be, and the aerialists’ rope is only used as yet another dick. However, the sheer good fun more than makes up for this.
Productions like this remind us (Aristophanes was right then and he’s right now): our ability to laugh at the pompous is precious, our sexuality is a powerful force for good, and our wars are disasters.
Dick (Kinesias) Kieran Garland.
Fanny (Myrrhine) Kali Hughes.
The Magistrate Mark Katz.
Lucy (Lysistrata) Tamsin Shasha.
Mikki (Cleonike) Lindsay Sharman.
Director: Mitch Mitchelson.
Designer: Lucy Bradridge.
Lighting: Peter Harrison.
Sound/Composer: Toby Park.
Choregrapher: Janine Fletcher.
Phallus maker: Henry Maynard.