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A new take on 'Lysistrata' turns tame and somewhat dated


None March 11th, 2010

Lysis006
t="210" hspace="10" />Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre continued its season last week with a brief run of that classic "” in an early sense of the word "” comedy from 411 B.C., Aristophanes' "Lysistrata," in a new adaptation by James Tyra.

Continuing its generally admirable practice of producing plays in conjunction with area universities, City Rep presented "Lysistrata" with Oklahoma City University's TheatreOCU.

If you think the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have been going on for a long time, you must admit that they are nothing compared to the ancient and perpetual battle of the sexes, the subject of "Lysistrata."

As portrayed by Aristophanes, the women of Greece feel sexually deprived, because the men of Athens and Sparta are off fighting the Peloponnesian War. The little sex the wives get during the men's couple of days' leave isn't enough, so Lysistrata (Lydia Mackay) persuades the women to withhold all sex, so their men will stop the war and stay home.

She wants to change the old politics of Athens and meets the expected resistance from the establishment. Lysistrata could commiserate with Barack Obama right now.

City Rep's production seemed to have all the necessary elements, but the thing landed with somewhat of a thud. It's hard to say whether the problem was with Tyra's adaptation or director Emily Gray's staging.

Tyra's script is mildly ribald and would benefit from some punching up with a little more spice. The double entendres are innocuously tame, the puns unsurprisingly lame, and the topical gags will be as obscure 2,000 years from now as Aristophanes' humor is today.

The magistrate (Michael Gibbons) asks Lysistrata what women know about war and peace. "It's a long story," she says. Get it? "War and Peace," as in Tolstoy, is a long story. One of the wives points out that the Athenian treasury is a public building, so you can't smoke within 25 feet of it.

Gray's staging was efficient, but unimaginative. It sort of had the look of a good high school production. She had the actors speak in Southwestern twangs, which may have been inspired by a reference to red states and blue states. In a nod to conventions of ancient Greek theater, the male actors playing concupiscent Greeks wore turgid phalluses. At least, I think those were phalluses protruding under their tunics.

The show had a pleasant, if unremarkable look. Don Childs' handsome set design was obviously inspired by the layout of ancient Greek theaters. Aaron Patrick Turner's costumes were fine, evocative of imagery on a Grecian urn.

The production ran less than 90 minutes, including intermission. That seemed to exist so the audience would not think it was paying full price for a one-act play, although the production did not necessarily seem all that brief. "”Larry Laneer

 
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