“Lysistrata” is a satire adapted from ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. Although the language was slightly adapted to relate to a contemporary audience, the play retained its traditional context with period dress and a close adaption of the script.
The play takes place during Greece’s Peloponnesian War and focuses on a group of women led by “Lysistrata,” played by senior Kimberlyn Frost who holds a sex strike to persuade the men to end the war.
In the first scene of the play, Lysistrata holds a council of six women, called to Athens from various states of Greece to participate in withholding sexual interaction with their husbands. The women are initially disgusted by the idea, but eventually agree to pledging the oath over a bowl of wine.
After the oath is complete, the women receive word that the old women of Athens have taken over the Acropolis to keep the men from supplying the war with money from the treasury. The old men immediately try to burn the gate down but are stopped when the women pour pitchers of water onto the fire. They begin arguing and a fight breaks out.
As both the men and women begin to crave sex, chaotic consequences follow. Despite the challenges of abstaining from sex, Lysistrata and her band of female companions continue to demand peace until the men finally agree to stop fighting.
“One of the challenges in producing this play was keeping the adaption close to its history,” said Margaret Lewis, a sophmore theatre major who plays Ismenia.
The director of the play, Helen Huxely, took careful steps in preparation for the production to keep it faithful to Aristophanes’ original play.
“We would sit in a circle, and Helen would describe where our characters came from,” Lewis said of the cast’s preparation.
Lewis described the challenge of forming a sisterhood with the five other actresses who played Lysistrata and the other women.
“With very little lines, we had to create a sense of comradery among us,” said Lewis. “We had to be confident of telling the character’s story with very little dialogue.”
One of the crucial themes in the play is Lysistrata’s ongoing conflict with the Magistrate, played by senior Nicholas McGovern. The Magistrate initially blames the men of Athens for allowing their women to disobey their husbands and finally submits to the women’s plea for peace.
The theme of feminism and anti-war sentiments are central to the play as the subtitle “Make Love, Not War” suggests.
Maggie Kennedy, a senior classics major, said that she enjoyed both the comic elements that stemmed from this theme as well as the historic significance.
“Aristophanes was the SNL of their culture,” said Kennedy of the ancient Greek audience. “Mostly men went to see it so the play is definitely bent on mocking women.
Kennedy said she read the original Greek play earlier in college and enjoyed seeing the parallels between the UMW production and the original play.
“I would definitely recommend going to see it,” said Kennedy. “If you’re clueless about Lysistrata or the culture I would read up on it beforehand.”
The strong acting, vibrant set design and makeup and the historical accuracy on point makes “Lysistrata” a play worth seeing.
“Lysistrata” will run Wednesday, April 16 through Saturday, April 19.