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Capital Fringe Review: ‘Lysistrata 1969’ by Jessica Vaughan

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The Sock Puppet Guerilla Theater mounts a truly hilarious production of an ancient satire Lysistrata by setting it in 1969. It doesn’t take much updating. The free love hedonism and protest spirit that infused ancient Greece is a perfect fit for the 60’s.

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2500 years ago, Athens was stuck in an expensive, unpopular war when playwright and satirist Aristophanes had a brainstorm. If every woman in every country stopped having sex with men until they stopped killing each other, all war would end. Oh, how the world has changed since then…

Director Jaki Demarest conceived of this made-in-heaven pairing and adapted Aristophanes’ script – keeping the rhyming zingers and the chorus speaking in unison, but injecting an occasional “I love you, man” and “burn baby burn.” A mash-up of costumes between 60’s shiek and ancient Greece enhances the mood. The set helps as well with three red and orange columns festooned with stickers and a love nest of bright colors and a very special pillow.

The large cast makes the show, singing sixties songs in the breaks between the penultimate battle of the sexes. Lisa Hill-Corley shines as the titular Lysistrata with her tribe of loyal women. Director and actor Jaki Demarest, Lauren Beward, Mikki Barry, Rebecca Hranj and Moira Parham are all excellent, enthusiastic foils. One of the best things about the original text is the assumption that women enjoy sex as much as men and find the separation just as difficult. They play that up as much as possible.  Yes, this is one production you can leave the kids at home for.

The Athenian magistrate (Paul Davis), the Spartan Ambassador (Gary Wynn), and Cinesias (Joshua Engel) forge a desperate peace led by their Honorary Members (Alan Duda, Steve Calamia, and Peter Orvetti). This is not a subtle production. In fact, this it the most unsubtle…and largest…production I’ve ever seen or will probably ever see of Lysistrata and these six are the reason why. They take a funny adaptation of an old idea to new heights. Peter Orvetti, Sidney David, and Paul Davis round out the crowd of hapless Athenian men.

The cast as a whole is shameless, fearless and funny. You could come see this to appreciate ancient Grecian art and theater or to relive the sixties (at one point the whole audience was singing), or you could just come to laugh.  I have a feeling that’s what Aristophanes is doing right now watching down on this production.

Running time: 60 minutes.

Lysistrata 1969 plays through July 26, 2013 at GALA Hispanic Theatre – 3333 14th St. NW, Washington DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, please visit their Capital Fringe page.

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