The roaring 20’s set the scene for this semester’s STAG main stage production, Lysistrata. Originally an Ancient Greek comedy, the co-directors Charlotte Smith and Katy Green veered away from the original tale and decided to tell another. This production switched the Peloponnesian war for the gang rivalries of New York City. The play centres around Lysistrata (played by Cara Stewart) and her efforts to prevent the seemingly everlasting war plaguing New York. We follow the showgirl/ entrepreneur as she enlists the help of other strong women to end the violence and chaos created by men.
It is certainly not a new concept to modernise a play and set it in 1920’s New York. In fact, it is slightly overdone and often a cop out to deal with the challenges of adapting war and conflict in a classic play. However, what is a new concept is to shift the lens of this male centric world of gangs to focus on women – who are time and time again erased from history. It was incredibly refreshing to see a play divert from the norm and show 1920s New York packed full of strong, complex and often hilariously funny female characters.
The defining plot point of the original Greek comedy is not lost in this adaptation as Lysistrata urges the women to withhold sex as a attempt to end the war. The openness around sexuality lent itself to moments of absolute hilarity such as seeing a group of 20s showgirls playing ‘Never Have I Ever’. I enjoyed laughing out loud and being constantly wowed by the quick wit and fast paced dialogue. The characters of Calondice (Molly Thompson) and Lampito (Alisa Brock) in particular made a lasting impact with their sharp comedic timing and melodramatic reactions. However, comedy was not a constant in the play and Act 2 brought tension and conflict to the forefront of the narrative. Lysistrata and Clint (Daniel Crawley) played off each other well and created a dynamic and tense atmosphere throughout, with this tension boiling over as the play progressed. The way the chorus worked together like clockwork to set the scene and enhance the atmosphere of the play as well as individually portraying complex and well thought out characters was also very well done.
This glitzy, revamped version of Lysistrata ended with a surprising twist, incorporating Marxist theory as the girls unite to end their oppression (and make absinthe). We went on an amazing journey with these women filled with incredible movement, stunning period-style music and hand made costumes that were to die for. The cast and crew should all be very proud of the beautiful, empowering piece of theatre they have made. It was truly revolutionary!
[Zara Grew – she/her – @zara_grew]
[Photo credit: Tom Lindsay]