Make love, not war. That’s the old saying isn’t it? If you were a hippie child of the ‘70s, I’m sure you would have agreed whole heartedly with that statement. If you were an ancient Grecian woman in 411 B.C. though, you may have had a different take on things. Aristophanes’ comical play Lysistrata, which was ﬁrst produced in Athens, Greece more than 2,000 years ago, follows one Greek woman on her quest to bring peace to the war-tortured Isles by ending the Peloponnesian War.
Her idea is simple; the women of Athens and Sparta are to refrain from making love to their husbands as a means of forcing them to negotiate peace. Her task is more complicated; can she convince the women to control their lustful desires long enough for the men’s urges to overcome their purpose at war?
Lysistrata, played powerfully by Crystal Abbott, seizes the Acropolis in protest of the war, and tries to persuade the nymphomaniacal women of Greece to join her in an oath of abstinence. At rst, they do not see how this strategy will work, and they declare they’d “rather have war than renounce sex.” With humorous determination though, Lysistrata prevails and the Grecian women, in their saffron gowns, reluctantly and hysterically, vow “not to raise their slippers toward the ceiling” and promise to renounce “The Lioness of the Cheese Grater” (you’ll have to watch the play to ﬁnd out what this is). Their far-fetched plan ignites an amusing battle of the sexes not only between the soldiers and their wives, but also amongst the old men and women of the village, and the battle endures until the bitter end.
The Chorus of Old Women, led by Claudia Warga, steals the show with their witty banter toward the Chorus of Old Men, led by Jules Ford. The endless teasing and mocking between the two groups will make you laugh so hard your cheeks will hurt, as they constantly try to one-up each other. After being stripped down to their skivvies, the old men are fed up with the old women’s antics and Forde declares he’ll “give the ol’ bag a sock upon the jaw.” The old women aren’t scared of a ﬁght, and even though half of them are hunched over, and the other half are shaking with possible Parkinson’s, they hold their ground to defend their younger comrades in the Acropolis.
The battle between husband and wife is showcased when Myrrhine, played by Jennifer Zielinsky Payne, is called upon by her husband Cinesias, played by Danny Woodruff. He shows up at the Acropolis crying out in pain, complaining of his ache for his wife. It’s very clear to the audience what is ailing Cinesias, as his “ache” is quite visible through his robes. Several other Greek soldiers show up in the same “hard” spot, and various phallic references carry the show on to the end.
I commend the cast for its bravery and the Gilbert Theater for having a phenomenal sense of humor. Is this play risqué? Yes. Does that make it awesome and completely worth seeing? By the beard of Zeus, I say it does.