Music and lyrics: Lewis Flinn
Producers: Lewis Flinn, Dean Sharenow
Reviewer: Ruth Jepson
Lysistrata Jones is a 2011 musical about abstinence. Specifically, abstinence in order to win a football game. Title character Lysistrata (lis-uh-strah-tuh, in case you’re trying to figure out how to pronounce that) is the new girl at fictional school Athens University. She quickly gets involved with a basketball player – quickly as in during the second number ‘Right Now: Party Time’- then discovers they haven’t won a game in thirty three years, and so leads a female rebellion which basically boils down to not giving it up until they do win one. You can work out what ‘not giving it up’ means without too much further information, right? Let’s just say that if the WAGs of England’s footballers made the same declaration then there’d be a lot less scandal in the daily newspapers – or possibly a lot more depending on the footballer. Of course, the boys don’t like that and the ongoing war of the sexes has another few battles to fight.
It’s actually a lot cleverer than it sounds. A parody of ancient Greek play Lysistrata, which features a ballsy Greek woman leading the same protest to end the Peloponnesian War, this modernised version centres around a group of cheerleaders, and is narrated by Hetaira, the embodiment of a Greek courtesan. Of course, this being a musical, things do go wrong and the popular guys don’t necessarily end up with the popular girls and vice versa, but since Sandy won Danny have we ever expected anything different?
The songs are a little long and a little too High School Musical (you will get bored of hearing about destiny and whiney kids singing about their dreams) but despite this, the soundtrack is very easy listening and catchy, thanks to a heavy influence from both cheerleader chants and poptastic RnB. The story is a bit difficult to follow vocal only, but the performances are good enough to keep you listening. Lysistrata, played by Patti Murin, is especially pleasing to listen to, very reminiscent of Reece Witherspoon in the Legally Blonde films.
As for specific songs to give a whirl, ‘No More Giving It Up’ is definitely worth a listen. It’s a very singable number where the girls reveal their plan to their respective partners to varied but predictable reactions. The song has a very Destiny’s Child feel to it and some humorous bits (listen out for the ghetto burbling from the guy whose parents won the projects – Cinesias, fantastically hammed up by Alex Wyse). He also gets a particularly nice resolution in ‘Don’t Judge a Book’.
Overall, the impression from the soundtrack is of a bouncy, fun musical not to be taken too seriously. It would probably be improved by being able to see what is going on – make sure you read a synopsis of the show to understand the plot because it moves fast. A film adaptation by the people who brought you Bring It On, another cheerleader-fest, is apparently in the works, so hopefully this will add the missing dimension.