‘Lysistrata’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by February 26, 2018

‘Lysistrata’ or ‘War! Whoa! What Is It Good For?!’ This Aristophanes anti-war classic, which has been highly, but very cleverly adapted by Phil Miolin, can be seen in the new state of the art, 80-seat, Hayman Theatre, situated within the Curtin Theatre Arts at Building 302. Enter the Bentley campus of Curtin University from Manning Road, past CSIRO; turn right onto Brand – the ring road – and park in the last section of Car park 9. There are sign posts to the venue, on the pathway opposite the car park.

The 70-minute blend of parody and political satire, with a Kleenheat Sizzle Factor of Hot, it is certainly for adults only. There is no nudity, but certainly graphic vision. The Fringe production runs for two nights only, the 23rd and 24th February. The curtain goes up at 7.00 pm.

The same show, however, continues its run from Tuesday 27th February until Saturday 3rd March, under the Curtin Hayman Theatre banner.

 

Set: The Acropolis in Athens. Stephen Carr’s design has several marble steps leading to an area where public speakers stand. The stage is surrounded by impressive marble arches. The walls are covered with ‘Wanted’ and ‘Missing’ posters, which on close examination are photos of the many successful students who have passed through the Curtin theatre course. Some pictures go back decades and raised a smile.

Scene: The modern day women of Athens are standing around wearing black camisoles and black cycling shorts. Then we are taken back 2,500 years to 411 BC, at the end of the Peloponnesian War. The women reappear, wearing tunics and stolas (or should it be stolae?).

The lighting design is by Stephen Carr and operated by Jemima Hill. Sophie Paice stage managed the show most competently.

Sarah Connolly’s crisp and clear sound design was the first to grace the new sound desk.

 

       The women of Athens, led by Lysistrata (Chelsea Gibson – superb) are talking about pointless wars. Behind them, their ‘ban the bomb flag’ is being raised, in a style reminiscent of the monument depicting Iwo Jima, when six American marines raised the US flag in 1945.

       Lysistrata is fed-up with men abandoning their wives and going off to war, and so she decides to stop their sexual rations. Her friend Calonice (Alexis Mercer) and most of the other women, including Myrrhine (Nicole Tomlinson – nice voice) are hedonistic and are desperate to keep up their nuptials. Lysistrata decides to go to the wives of other countries, like Carthage and Sparta that their men are fighting, and to talk to their leaders.

       The leaders of a ‘shit hole’ country – yes the Donald Trump gets a quote – The Spartan Lampito (Amber Gilmour) and Stratyllis (Dominique Duvall) are fearless when it comes to fighting with the returning soldiers, and so joins Lysistrata’s side.

         Eventually they women on all sides are united and start singing Edwin Starr’s 1970 anti-war song, ‘War’. There are various other relevant musical numbers from Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

         The women then take over the Acropolis, and the treasury buried within, so stopping the funding of the wars.

       Myrrhine’s husband, Cinesius (Calum Christie) with his manhood ready for action arrives home, accompanied by the Spartan Herald, (Callan Hodge) who when he munches an onion looks very like an ex-Prime Minister. They go to see the Magistrate (Taylor ‘Mutta’ Beilby), who brings along archers and stick fighters, to beat the women into submission.

       The locals (Cameron Norton, Rebecca Penn, Holly Miller, Kyra Belford-Thomas, Ethan Milne, and Keiran Trembath) are not happy, especially the men who are suffering from swollen glands.

       Will the soldiers ‘Give Peace a Chance’?

 

The costume designers, Kiri Siva and Dominique Duvall, have produced simple but effective outfits, with all of the trimmings!!

Director Phil Miolin could easily have presented the regular ‘Lysistrata’ play that I have seen several times already. Instead he showed us how throughout the world, the battles still continue as they have for the past two and a half thousand years.

The huge number of asides, quotes from politicians, and well known anti-war supporters must have taken a tremendous amount of research, but it brought a new freshness to the play.

The leads were powerful and convincing. Most enjoyable with plenty of adult fun.