Oscar E Moore

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Lysistrata – Puppets and Sex at La Mama

February 7th, 2011 by Oscar E Moore

Aristophanes knew how to stop a war.  Have the women of Sparta and Athens refuse to have sex with their men.  Simple.  If only it were that easy. 

In this imaginative and striking new production of “Lysistrata” adapted, designed and directed by Theodora Skipitares now playing at La Mama – home to the experimental and avant-garde you will see a Lysistrata like you have never seen before.  A production that stretches the visual limits of this anti war play with the use of life size puppets operated with skill and dexterity by actors speaking the parts.  It’s amazing.

Puppets which enable the actors to appear larger than life.  Where the chorus of Old Men (each actor operates three puppets) are each very well endowed.  Their endowments dangling to the floor hanging from their togas.  Horny as ever.  Where the Chorus of Old Women (likewise three to an actor) have their sagging rubbery breasts exposed.  Horny as ever.

Only Lysistrata (Antonevia Ocho-Coultes), the Dear Abby of Athens, has advised them all into not engaging in any kind of sex until the war is stopped.  She has trouble convincing them (one faints) and there are some who would give in but as hard as it is not to give in they don’t taking an oath to abstain.

In video projections and newsreel footage we see similar tactics being used by seahorses, in Columbia (The Strike of Crossed Legs), Mexico and London which just goes to show how using sex and refusing sex can get the desired results.

Off to the side is Sxip Shirey, looking very much like a mad scientist with his laboratory of gizmos and gadgets, supplying musical accompaniment, vocals and songs (Lyrics by Sxip & Aristophanes).  He is as interesting to watch as the actors on stage – sometimes more so as the 75 minutes show becomes repetitious about two thirds in. 

However it is brought vividly back to life by the appearance of Reconciliation (Gal Friday) resplendently naked with a map of Greece and Mount Olympus painted on her luscious body.  If that doesn’t stir things up again making everyone jump into the sack nothing will.  

The puppet design by Jane Catherine Shaw, Theodora Skipitares and Cecelia Schiller is extraordinary.  The actors manipulating them, even more so despite their faces being masked.

The one actor without a mask is the scene stealing, agile of body and voice Daniel Irizarry playing a trio of roles.  One of which is a midget (played on his knees) with humor, amazing grace and style.

Director’s Note: Lysistrata is a reminder that it is possible for ordinary people to affect profound social change. 

Just take a look at the headlines coming out of Egypt.

Photo: Richard Termine

www.LAMAMA.org  Through February 14th  Tickets $25.00

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