Adapted from Aristophanes
Director: Susan Worsfold
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
One week ago, (21 of January 2017) saw millions united in rejection of misogyny, continued inequality and the protection of others. Tonight, the King’s Theatre hosted one of antiquity’s fundamental comedies featuring a different march for women; Lysistrata. While the original is by no means a cemented pacifist text, its modern day interpretations and adaptations are held in high regard in feminist literature. For the Attic Collective, Lysistrata maintains its comedic indulgence of hysterical women but utilises its own words in an attempt at a modern adaptation.
Known for his commentary and satirical writings, Aristophanes’ work often contained woman seizing the position of power to both demonstrate the ineffectiveness of government and female hysteria. Lysistrata, heavy in its use of the chorus, rife with sexual innuendo and deviance makes it a familiar work to many. The titular Lysistrata rallies the women of Greece to withdraw carnal desires from men (and so suffer themselves) to stop the Peloponnesian War.
Satire is our crutch, we use it to survive in the most trying of times. It is one of the long-standing tools for the playwright. When used correctly it has the capability to enrage tyrants, strike controversy and even help spark change. Tonight’s production of one of history’s most satirical texts is, at times, poorly appropriated. Yes, While the line; “Make Greece great again” may attempt to lampoon, it feels tacked on and awkward when delivered from a caricature of the Conservative party, not an American Republican. Lysistrata by very default is absurd and over the top. The use of familiar Pussy Riot balaclavas is a tight reference, but the non-sexual one liners just feel like bad political jibes.
The Attic Collective pulses with physical comedy and slapstick. More so it bolsters some fast-rising talent, such as Megan Fraser (Statyllis). Its humour provided by some of the female and male chorus actors and our *ahem* engorged Cinesias, performed ever so beautifully by Adam George Butler, captures the utter depravity and over-the-edge stupidity Lysistrata is renowned for. Cat Irvine though, as our titular embodiment of perseverance, is weak. Irvine simply does not carry the weight or gravitas of the role well, it is by no stretch poor, but a character renowned for bringing legions of old and young together in defiance of war, taking the Acropolis and standing against the debating men is not achieved here.
If one is unfamiliar with Lysistrata there is a chance the ill-judged decision to have so many lines delivered in synthesised voices will lose many. A significant number of deliveries are muffled, the epilogue itself has lines which are rendered utterly unidentifiable.
The set is simple with props used to humorous effect. Laden with gold and white the setting serves its purpose. The Acropolis door re-shaped to literally birth the entrances of Lysistrata has flashes of thought behind it.
In the present climate, every encouragement must be given to new production companies. For a first flight, The Attic Collective’s Lysistrata is an immensely ambitious start with some solid laughs. It achieves lift-off, a lot of turbulence and lands losing a few messages along the way, but at least it got the chance to fly.
Runs until 28 January 2017 | Image: Greg McVean