Kicking off its 61st season, Minneapolis' Theatre in the Round presents the hilariously irreverent and uniquely relevant Greek classic, LYSISTRATA. First performed in 411 B.C., the show's lewd humor is still enthralling audiences today-and rightfully so. The production runs from September 7 through September 30, 2012, so audiences have plenty of time to catch Craig Johnson's wildly entertaining adaptation.
Set during the wars between Athens and Sparta, the title character, LYSISTRATA, decides to force the men to resolve conflict by persuading the women to withhold sex until the violence ends. Logically, the comedy is filled with graphic innuendo and rampant slapstick, complete with satirical costuming and set design. The theatre's arena-style, center-stage design is appropriate for the play, making the audience members feel more like spectators or voyeurs in this satirical battling to end the Peloponnesian War.
While all the productions cast members enliven the stage with superb comedic timing, it is Jean Williamson, who plays the heroine, Lysistrata, that deserves superior admiration. Her quick-tongued dialogue and effortless delivery carries the play through secessions of comedic rendezvous.
While the play's façade appears to showcase nothing more than vulgar comedy, Aristophanes' piece is a social commentary, combining proto-feminist leanings with antiquated thinking, defining the production as more of a political satire at heart. While the women live as inferiors in a socially repressive society, they are able to utilize sexuality as a source of power. Some even supplement the transfer of power by denying male soldiers the funding needed to carry out the war. Williamson plays this balance with brutal honesty; powerful stage presence and gut-wrenching humor.
Whether your interpretation of the play is feminist, anti-war, or plain unbridled humor, a public discussion with the cast will be held after the matinee performance on September 30. So, head over to one of the oldest theatres in the state and celebrate the ancient play that combines thoughtful discourse and raunchy debauchery. Perhaps that's the reason it has survived the test of time.
Photo Credit: Act One, Too, Ltd.