Review by Carol Little
The UPEI Theatre Society presented the classic Greek anti-war comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes on November 17th, 18th and 19th on campus at the Duffy Amphitheatre. The play was directed by Ashley Clark and produced by the coordinator of theatre studies at UPEI, Dr. Greg Doran.
Set in Athens, the play takes place amid war with the men fighting and the women alone in the city. The women do not agree with the war and are frustrated that their men are away from home fighting more often than not, while the women are left alone to raise the children. Equally frustrated that their intelligence, capability and opinions are not taken seriously by the men, the women band together to take a stand for their gender.
In order to force their husbands to stay home and end the war, the women of Athens, led by Lysistrata, vow to deny their husbands sex until peace is declared. Their goal, Lysistrata says is “to stop every living man from ever raising a spear against another and from ever lifting a shield or springing a dagger.” The women seize the Acropolis and barricade the gates to keep the men out.
The torrid comedy escalates as the men return home from the war and cannot stand the separation from their wives. The two sexes squabble and tease each other throughout the play, with the women always proving their superior strength in abstinence. In the end, the men, who are painfully engulfed with passion and desire for their spouses, promise to agree to anything if only their wives will return home and end their sexual suffering.
In the UPEI Theatre Society’s interpretation of Lysistrata, the director opted to adapt the play and to leave out certain elements in a stated attempt to modernize the presentation, hoping to avoid alienating the audience and to increase general accessibility. The performance was true to the racy comedy and tense sexual dynamic between the men and women, but left out many additional elements such as masks, chants and dances. I felt the play was lacking due to the absence of these rituals and would have been more complete and interesting had it been a true interpretation.
The performance featured twenty-two actors, including in the title roles: Diana Love as Lysistrata, Jennifer Tasker as Calonice, Tara Rumsey as Myrrhine, Rob Reddin as the Magistrate, Greg Chandler as Cinesias and Nick Kay as Manes.
It is generally agreed by scholars that Aristophanes lived around 400 B.C. and began playwriting at the age of eighteen.