UCC’s winter term play had a successful run from Feb. 25 to March 6. Directed by Adjunct Theatre Faculty Christina Allaback, the play adapted the classic Greek play by Aristophanes that dates back to 411 B.C. Allaback chose this work as she, “felt the UCC student community really needed [the comedy].”
Sexual references and innuendos dictated the humor here, and while some jokes missed, the majority strike as clever and not so subtle euphemisms. The play’s jokes about erections and stripping scenes are enough to get even the most stagnant sex abstainer to laugh.
Aristophanes’ play is older than Jesus himself, as it has been tested by the ages and survives still. Updated here to take place in the 1960s, the play follows a woman named Lysistrata, a Greek wife whose entire city of Athens is at war with nearby Sparta. Acquiring the help of Spartan friend Lampito, as well as other women in her community, she hopes to end the war prematurely by denying the men fighting it the precious gift of sexual intercourse. She and her female followers hope that man’s lust for sex will eventually overrule his lust for violence.
Allaback uses the modern 1960s setting to eliminate the tricky vernacular found in Greek plays. While the modern dialogue makes the play easy to understand, but the updated timeline is not used for much else. It would have been nice to see more sixties references mentioned here, as their inclusion would make the play feel more consistent with the timeline.
Every actor did well with the script here. Actor Isaac Guerrero is a standout in his double roles as Myrrine’s love interest Cinesias and Old Man Draces, while Lysistrata herself Abby Dooley’s vocal range is flaunted in three of the play’s four songs.
The modern approach utilizes the songs well. Motown classics such as “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Dancing in the Streets” are among the highlights of the play as Lysistrata and her followers deal with their decision and how the repercussions affect both the men and themselves. Perhaps the play’s greatest strength is the live piano that accompanies several scenes. Unlike most UCC plays that use prerecorded soundtracks, the live instrument added a more natural sound and strengthened the performances. Although underutilized, the upbeat and energetic tunes made the comedy sharper, the scenes more crisp, and the overall product the better by making the play livelier.
The set does not have much intricacy, but works for what the actors and story require. Four Greek columns and a set of steps with broken walls atop them complete the stage. A clear and practiced motion from the actors in this environment showed; timed events such as one actor throwing props behind his or her back to an
The costume design, then, is to be praised, both for its looks and the effect costumes have on character understanding. Classical dresses worn by the women reflect the gowns of ancient Greece, but they are updated to include more current fashions such as more vibrant colors and shorter lengths. Color is important as well, in regards to the characters composing the Old Men and Women’s Choruses. Specific color motifs such as one character dressed all in yellow are matched by the opposite gender, which links the two characters on a visionary level.
What should be praised here, above all, is that UCC has finally returned to theatre, and in a good way. After fall term’s “Anne Frank” was disappointingly, if understandably, cancelled, a hole was left in both the theatre schedule and UCC theatre fan’s hearts. With “Lysistrata,” that hole has been filled in rather well, a fact the play itself would likely joke about.