Theatre Review: The Sapphire Theatre Company’s “Lysistrata”

Poster for the Sapphire Theatre Company’s production of Lysistrata - designed by Hugh Arthur

Last Sunday afternoon I parked in the Sun garage and took the escalator up to the fourth floor of the Circle Centre Mall to see “Lysistrata,” written by Aristophanes and adapted by David Orr and director Bonnie Mill.  This was the first production of the new, professional, Sapphire Theatre Company.  You may remember that I wrote about their “Women’s Meet and Greet” event a few weeks ago.

I enjoyed this production for the reasons that I enjoy a good beach read:  it is fluffy and it includes a lot of sexy people thinking almost constantly about sex.

(By the way, this show is rated by the theatre “A” for Adult content.  Just so you know, if I gave age ratings for my reviews, I would rate the following comments as “A” for Adult, too.)

The show opens with a wiry little Delivery Woman (Kate Ayers) bringing in two sheet-covered statues.  These come alive and serve as a sparkly, mischievous, quote-spouting chorus that remains on stage throughout the show.  (Female Kory played by Joanna Eve Winston.  Male Kory played by Jonah D. Winston.) 

Then the story proper begins.  An earth-mothery woman named Lysistrata (Nan Macy) invites her female friends to a meeting to hear about an idea she has for ending the war that has taken so many of their husbands and sons.  She proposes that they steal the key to the country’s treasury and barricade themselves there, withholding sex from all of their men until they agree to negotiate for peace. 

Lysistrata invites some representative women from the enemy country as well.  Estrogena (Kate Ayers) and Xena (Karen Irwin) are militant and cautious, but eventually they agree to convince their sisters to participate in Lysistrata’s wild plan, too.

The women’s missions are quickly accomplished, but with some unexpected side effects.  For one thing, going without sex turns out to be as difficult for the women as it is for the men.

A couple of the women – the homemaker-y Areola (Denise Jaeckel) and the prim (she reminded me of Charlotte from “Sex in the City”) Eatmeples (Carrie A. Schlatter Schwer) – turn to each other for relief.

Others turn to toys.  The Delivery Woman is greeted with sighs and squeals of gratitude when she delivers a box full of items to help the women find release without breaking their siege:  a feather, a pair of pink suede covered handcuffs, a dildo, a whip, and a tiny, silver, bullet-shaped thing that mystified me…unless it was meant to be a flash drive filled with erotic stories and images?  Although supposedly set in ancient times, this show has several modern touches.  (Patricia L. Money is the props master.)

In the meantime, the men develop huge, painfully distracting erections under their soldiering skirts.

Yet the war continues.  So Lysistrata convinces the demure Myrrhine (Jamison Garrison) to pull out all seductive stops in order to persuade her captain husband, Kinesias (Michael Hosp), to put the pressure on his leader to negotiate for peace. 

Myrrhine shyly pops in and out of the courtyard wearing a variety of Kinesias’ favorite sexual role-playing outfits while he groans with desire and frustration.

I was pretty caught up in all the lust myself until Kinesias said something like, “Please come home, honey, the house is a mess without you.” 

That made my own desire wane on behalf of Myrrhine.  What her man misses most is her housekeeping?  Ick!  Get away!

But she loves him and desires him for who he is, oafishness and all.  She can barely keep control of herself enough to explain what she wants him to do.

Sexual attraction sure is unpredictable sometimes, isn’t it.

I confess, I didn’t think much about the importance of peace during this show, even though that was supposed to be a main theme.  Mostly I thought about the complexity and variety of sexual attraction and sexual expression.  I also thought about what it would be like to make love with each of the characters, especially those that came to be standing only a foot away from where I was sitting in the intimate theatre space.

I noticed, for example, that the skin on Smegmacles’ (Joey Hudson) bare shoulder was very smooth.  I was tempted to lean over just a tiny bit and lick his tattoo.  However, I was pretty sure that that would startle the actor and maybe make him forget a line or two, so I resisted.

I was even more attracted to cuddly Erectus (Sam Fain) and imagined how safe it would feel to be held by him.  Testicles (Kevin Lambert) was a cutie and made me laugh, and that is always a turn-on.

The hot chemistry between the beautiful and sexually-experienced Kleonike (Lucinda Phillips) and whichever man caught her eye was intoxicating, too.

I didn’t fantasize about making love to Xena (Karen Irwin) but I did fantasize about being able to command attention without smiling the way she does, while looking as good as she does in a zippered, black vinyl bra.

I enjoyed all my fantasizing as I was following the story on the stage, but it reminded me that a person can miss partnered sex and yet survive quite well without it for years.  So really, the plot of this play is not very believable.

In fact, when the Athenian Senator (Jeff Keel) and the Spartan General (Brad Potts) finally do sit down to consider the possibility of peace between their two nations, they provide more fodder for my fantasy life because the Senator could get work as a GQ model and the General is built like Popeye, but neither one of them has a huge erection like the other men do.  Apparently, the sex boycott hasn’t affected them at all.

Ultimately, however, I didn’t care that the plot didn’t make sense, any more than I care that my beach reading is unrealistic.   Sometimes I just feel like taking in some fun fluff.

I very much enjoyed the jazzy, liquid-and-light recorded music that accompanies this show.  It made me feel like getting up and dancing more than once.  The simple, pretend-marble set with the delicate Greek countryside in the background and the supple lighting is lovely.  The women’s costumes, for the most part, are both flowing and clingy, alluding to both feminine strength and feminine grace; the men’s skirts are humorous and tantalizing.

(Set and sound design by David Orr.  Lighting design by Rissa Coleen Joan Guffey.  Costume design by Tonie Smith.  Delia Neylon is the stage manager.  Hillary Hitner is the assistant stage manager.  Jared Duymovic is the master electrician.  Kyle Bredehoeft is the electrician.  Aarya Sara Locker is the fight and funnies choreographer.  Hugh Arthur designed the Lysistrata image.)

I’m not sure who designed the programs, but they are unusual and delightful:  each is a pack of large cards held together by a key ring.  The bios of the production team and caste include each person’s turn ons, turn offs, and affiliations.

The Sapphire Theatre Company’s production of “Lysistrata” closed yesterday (Saturday, November 15, 2008) so I know my comments won’t help you decide whether or not to go see it.  However, I wanted to record my thoughts on this inaugural production from an exciting new professional theatre group.  I wish them well, and I will be checking their website frequently to see what their next project will be.

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

2 thoughts on “Theatre Review: The Sapphire Theatre Company’s “Lysistrata””

  1. Hi Hope,

    Thank you so much for seeing Lysistrata and for your generous review. I am so glad you had fun. It was a great cast and we had a blast. Bonnie is a truly beautiful person and I feel very lucky to have been a part of The Sapphire’s first production. It is amazing how diverse people’s opinions of this production were. As you pointed out-
    Four different reviewers’ four different reactions. I love that! Side note-Personally I think we should encourage men to wear kilts-so sexy!
    I hope your father is feeling stronger and that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
    Lucinda

  2. Thanks very much, Lucinda! I especially appreciate your kind words about my father. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving, too.

    And I do like men in kilts…but in this weather I would worry about them catching cold! Unless they wore long underwear underneath, which kind of negates the sexiness of the kilt. Ah, well.

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