Sunday, September 04, 2011

Theatre: Lysistrata

For the first time earlier this summer, we watched a play at U of T's outdoor Philosopher's Stage (located in the middle of Philosopher's Walk) next to the Faculty of Music building.  The theatre area consisted of a small stage on a grass field where the audience sat on their blankets and lawn chairs. 

The play we watched was an ancient Greek comedy called  Lysistrata written by Aristophanes in 411 B.C. It about the attempts of the titled character to convince the women of Greece to try to stop the Peloponnesian War.  Her plot was to impose a sex boycott on the warring soldiers from both sides  of the battle until they agreed to make peace.  The bawdy premise was played to the hilt as the women strutting around seductively and the randy, but sexually spurned returning warriors pacing around in frustration with literally foot-long erections.

The play was entertaining and the acting was solid, especially by the main players.  It was interesting to see that the subject matter of using sex as a bargaining chip was common even in such an old play.  Perhaps this was the inspiration for the slogan used by the U.S. Temperance movement of the late 1800s to rally against drinking - "Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine".  It seems that using the "Battle of the Sexes" as a comedic plot device has very antiquated roots. 

I had two main complaints with the staging.  I did not like how the band punctuated every joke with a "ba-da-dum" drumroll or a sound effect as if prompting me that it was time to laugh.  They should have let the script and delivery of the performances stand for themselves.

Secondly we found it really difficult to hear in this outdoor venue where the actors were not miked.  Although they tried valiantly to project their voices, it was difficult to compete with the nearby street and other ambient noises.  Small wireless mikes would have solved this issue but perhaps the budget is not big enough for these small productions.

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