Intiman’s Modern Take on Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata”

Make war and you’ll not make love! When the Peloponnesian War dragged on for more than 20 years in 4th C. BC, Greek dramatist Aristophanes wrote “Lysistrata”. In it men get no sex until they end the war. On the Intiman stage, modern soldiers in Afghanistan decide to produce that play, and what an adaptation it is! Vulgar? Exceedingly so. Bawdy? Of course. Foul language? Indeed. Sophomoric? Somewhat. But it is funny, and if you aren’t put off by raunch, you’ll find things to like about this production.

As you walk into the theatre soldiers (male and female) are moving supplies, hanging around, doing push-ups, just being soldiers when they decide to quell their boredom by putting on a play. “Lysistrata” is a fine choice—anti-war theme, sexual content, humor.

And so it begins. Lysistrata, played with zest by Shontina Vernon, creates an alliance of women from all combattant groups, women who agree to withhold sexual favors until their men make peace. They will tease. They will taunt, but they won’t follow through. As time passes, the men grow large with lust, a condition made evident by some clever stagecraft.

Eventually even the women question the strategy, but Lysistrata works tirelessly to rally them to the cause. In one of the funniest and most vulgar scenes in the play, she encourages Myrrhine, played with luscious lasciviousness by Kamaria Hallums-Harris to drive her husband crazy with lust but to leave him unfulfilled. Tim Gouran the husband, reaches monumental heights with each of her advances as he writhes with pain.

The language is full of double entendres and clever rhymes. Interspersed throughout are references to our modern wars, and the play’s ending is a sharp reminder of war’s toll. It’s Aristophanes made au courant to the beat of hip hop. But oh, Director Sheila Daniels, what would your mother say?

Through Sept. 12, check Intiman schedule for exact dates, The Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, 201 Mercer St., Seattle; (206 441-7178 or info@intiman.org)

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