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Lysistrata the Musical
Published on Tuesday, 23 August 2011

3 stars

theSpaces @ Surgeons Hall (venue website)
5-6, 8-13 Aug, 10:20pm-11:20pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

The Flying High Theatre Company’s musical version of Lysistrata updates the classic play about women using a sex strike to try and stop a war, and moves the action to Greenham Common in the early 80s. This is a neat place to set the tale, and seemed like an inspired twist, but this show wasn’t the smart piece of work I was expecting.

The piece does stick to the historical facts as far as possible, but in the end the reality of the story is too complicated for a neat three acts. And the satirical tone I picked up from the show’s description just isn’t present. There doesn’t seem to be any real message here, about pacifism or nuclear disarmament or naivety, or any of the possible angles this story presents.

But having said that, despite being something very different from what I expected, the piece actually won me over with its sparky tunes and enthusiastic performances. The lead is nicely charismatic and the supporting cast do an excellent job; there are some wooden moments, but mostly the thing is carried of with energetic aplomb.

Then, about half way through the show, there is a distinct tonal shift and all pretence at seriousness is dropped. One of the poor, sex-starved husbands hobbles onto the stage, his movement restricted by a truly ridiculous prop jutting out of his underwear. It is a perfectly judged moment, the audience were in fits of laughter… and essentially at this point, the whole thing becomes Carry On Greenham Common.  It retains that mood for the rest of the show.  Which is no bad thing at all.

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