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a Comedy
by Aristophanes

COMPANY : Impulse Repertory Co. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Windmill Arts Center
ID# 5364

SHOWING : October 06, 2018 - October 20, 2018



Lysistrata is the long-suffering wife of an Athenian general fighting in a decades-long war. She finally gets fed up and enlists her fellow Athenian woman as well as the women of Sparta (their enemy) to end the war once and for all: by refusing sex to all the men until they come to a peace agreement. Both raunchy fun and timely commentary in the #MeToo era.

Director Ibi Owolabi
Leader of the Old Man’s Chorus Bryan Davis
Magistrate, Chorus Andre Eaton
Ismenia, Reconciliation Jessica McGuire
Leader of the Old Women’s Chorus Betty Mitchell
Manes, Soldier, Chorus Tamil Periasamy
Cinesias, Chorus Kenneth Wigley
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Bawdy B.C.
by playgoer
Saturday, October 13, 2018
Aristophanes’ "Lysistrata" concerns a sex strike by the women of Greece, withholding their favors from their husbands until the men pledge to bring about peace. As such, you might expect a certain amount of sexy content. But you might not expect the amount of blatant double entendres, bawdy body language, and faux nudity that is being paraded about in Impulse Repertory Company’s production. Those ancient Greeks sure liked things primal and carnal and animalistic!

Ibi Owolabi has directed the show to highlight these qualities. In the action of the piece, the women of Athens have taken over the Acropolis (which includes the city-state’s treasury) and occasionally descend to bargain with and/or berate the men. Ms. Owolabi nicely stages this by using the center aisle of the audience risers to represent the slope up to the Acropolis. A lot of movement up and down the stairs brings the actors within inches of the audience. A certain amount of comical interaction occurs, as the audience (or specific audience members) are addressed as part of the script. Sam Ross’ lighting design makes sure the actors on the stairs are nicely lit during their scenes.

The set proper (designed by Kara Cantrell) consists just of a few low, stacked platforms skewed near the up right section of the stage, with the floor painted in a sinuous, vaguely sandy pattern of wide bands. It’s spare and elegant, and Mr. Ross’ lighting of it and of the upstage screen gives a classic feel to the proceedings.

Clint Horne’s costumes initially invoke the 1950’s. That seems contradictory to the bawdy content of the play, since the 1950’s were known for wholesomeness. Later, when the old men and women disrobe, we see the women in lingerie and the old men with exposed privates consisting of stuffed socks (one for a phallus and another hanging down with round lumps inside to represent testicles). When virile men show up later, their yard-long erections and bulbous testes use the same technique on steroids.

Performances are all good. Elizabeth Ann Miller makes for a statuesque, fiery Lysistrata, sparking the action. Iniki Roberts, as her friend Calonice, and Emily Nedvidek, as Myrrhine from Sparta, make their sexual passions clear before finally agreeing to Lysistrata’s plan. Renee Skibinski (Lampito) and Jessica McGuire (Ismenia) fill out the ensemble of wives, and there’s lots of fun in Ismenia constantly being overlooked and interrupted before she even has a chance to speak. Ms. McGuire also plays the undulating figure of Reconciliation at the end, and Betty Mitchell rounds out the female cast as the tart-tongued leader of the Old Women’s Chorus.

The cast’s male members (oops! bad choice of words) all take on chorus roles at some point. Robert Bryan Davis is the leader of the Old Man’s Chorus, accompanied by Tamil Periasamy and Kenneth Wigley. All are comic and stooped and basically stupid. Messrs. Pariasamy and Wigley make nice transitions to other characters, with Mr. Wigley’s transformations being especially virtuosic. Andre Eaton Jr. plays a supercilious Magistrate, apart from acting as a general chorus member, and gives a nice smug edge to his character. All project well vocally.

The production falls down a bit on Dolph Amick’s sound design. The accompaniment to a song sung by Mr. Davis and Ms. Mitchell gives them little support, and overall the dances fall a bit flat, largely due to a modern audience’s indifference to the conventions of ancient Greek drama. The dances are well-enough performed, with Mr. Eaton giving his steps a little extra flair, but they seem peripheral to the story. The script itself mixes together occasional modern references with Aristophanes’ references to ancient Greek military history, goddesses, clothing, habits, and traditions to such a degree that it seems that the play is neither here nor there.

Ms. Owolabi has pulled together a production with many admirable components, and she is certainly a director to be reckoned with. That this production of "Lysistrata" doesn’t quite work is a disappointment, but it still contains tons of humor and a feminist message that has echoed through the ages. It would benefit from a longer run, with fewer line slip-ups and an audience primed for the style of the show. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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