Philobiblon: Lysistrata: Girl power for the Naughties

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lysistrata: Girl power for the Naughties

"I loved his willy. I really loved his willy." This is not the sort of audience reaction you expect to hear outside a staging of an ancient Greek play, but the new show at the Arcola Theatre is Aristophanes, and Lysistrata, and a Lysistrata far closer in intent to the original than the po-faced American translation (Douglass Parker's) sitting on my shelf in which the introduction proclaims the play is about "Love Achieved".

Of course it is not about love, but sex, and women exercising the power of their bodies to achieve the highest of goals, peace. So the four-foot-long flourescent tubes rising, and rising, and rising, from the groins of the magistrate, the Spartan amassador and Kinesias are entirely explicit in their meaning, and the actors, and the text, have no problems with that.

To an ancient Greek audience this was ludicrous fooling, but today it has a more serious meaning. The young women in the audience were cheering on Lysistrata (a powerful performance by Tanya Moodie) all of the way, as she dominated the play, and the men - this is girl power for the Naughties, and a far more admirable model than that offered by the Spice Girls in the 1990s. READ MORE

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