Wow, what a week it has been. Gloria Steinem at the IU Auditorium reminding all of us about the real gains that feminism has made for women, and for men, and the IU Theatre reminding us about just how much fun a real battle of the sexes can be.
“Lysistrata” is a bawdy comedy about a sex strike by women fed up with warring men. Director Noah Tuleja adroitly mixes straight drama, cabaret stylings, dance, choreographed stage combat and flat out farce. “Lysistata” kept me involved with clever stagings, good acting, fully exploited funny situations and sometimes just in wondering who was going to do what to whom and in what enjoyable manner.
Sheila Regan was masterly as Lysistrata. The role is particularly difficult because she gets to do all the high blown stuff and Ranjit Bolt’s adaptation is in verse. Eliza Hart was very funny as her partner, an earthy girl who can do a mean hip swing and–at least for a higher cause– say “No!” Molly Wright had a “valley girl” manner down to a “t.” Rachel Simpson joined the strike from Corinthia. You remember those commercials for “rich Corinthian leather?” Well she had lots of it and some stainless steel as well. Kacie Leblong capped the evening’s antics with a stunning strip tease that took the whole map of the Mediterranean to fully cover. Jessica Krueger and her female chorus were always ready to lend a hand and when things got warm, even strip to the waist for action.
Enough about the wonderful women of “Lysistrata.” Sam Wooten led the male opposition and whether he was trying to be manly or camping it up, always carried the stage. He was aided or at least joined, mostly in defeat, by the male chorus led and choreographed by Jose Antonio Garcia. A late comer to the action of the play was Josh Gaboian as the hapless husband Kinesias. The ladies string out a temptation for him that makes him think that instead of bedding his wife, he’s in a bed making contest.
All through the playing of “Lysistrata,” Laurie Green and Brian Levin played a couple of tramps who watched and occasionally contributed to or reacted with the action. On stage throughout, they kept their focus and finally had their own laughs as well.
The set by Van Tinkham was an amusing and useful amalgam of moldy Greek revival mixed in with contemporary construction site. Sound design and original music was by
Andrew Elliott. Amanda Bailey’s costumes looked good on and off the actors. They each said something about each of the characters they were made for.
Aristophanes play was first put on in Athens in the middle of the Peloponnesian War. The IU Theatre is putting it on in the midst of a build up to war with Iraq. In 411 B.C. “Lysistrata” didn’t stop the Peloponnesian War. In 2003 A.D. it won’t stop whatever happens with Iraq either, but those old time Athenians got a good if occasionally thoughtful laugh and so did the opening night crowd in the Ruth N. Halls Theatre. Actually, those laughs were frequently at the full “hoot” level and there were some boisterous cheers as well.
Aristophenes’ raucous comedy “Lysistrata” at the IU Theatre plays each evening this week at eight.