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Theatre Review: ‘Shoot sperm not bullets’

Bobby Shipman

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As I sat in the front row at Tuesday night’s advanced preview of “Lysistrata,” I was taken aback when the character Kinesias placed his penis on my leg mid show.

I truly got the full extent of the experience.

The scandalous play portrays female empowerment as the women of Greece switched from fleshy fun to plastic pleasure in protest of the Peloponnesian War.

Wasserman’s adaptation of the Greek comedy “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes takes the term double entendre to a new level.

He mixes a classical setting with modern amenities like popcorn machines and makes use of cartoonish sound effects mimetic of those in IFC’s “Portlandia.”

Shawnte Gaston commands the stage as the powerful Lysistrata who is known as the “town pump” until she rallies the lustful ladies in a sexual strike in which they refuse to fulfill their men’s carnal fantasies.

They don their acropolis haven with banners—a la 60s Vietnam protests—that revealed phrases like “Shoot sperm not bullets.”

The time period fusion included interludes featuring 80s female pop anthems.

Each female character represented misogynistic stereotypes like the dumb blonde and the desperate slut—with revealing outfits to match.

Although all the ladies were on point, there are too many characters to discuss all of their strengths and weaknesses, but one woman’s performance stood out.

Enjoli Drake played Spartan woman Libido, a dominatrix type whose perfectly misplaced Russian accent was spot on. Although her stage time was limited, Drake whipped her bodacious role into shape.

The elderly men, in their “#1 Grandpa” hats and Hawaiian shirts, left behind during the war, grumpily try to persuade the women to give in.

USI Theatre’s costume designer Stephanie Sauerheber and custume shop had the odd task of constructing the wrinkled schlongs that dangled between the men’s knobby knees through the entirety of their performances—that is when they weren’t twirling them around like propellers.

To deter the men, the women barricade the acropolis with a “crotchety collection of cantankerous old crazies” made up of Old Vulva (Danielle Scott), Vericosia (Brandis DeWilligen), Purdenda (Chynna Hall), Urethra (Adrian Small) and Chlamydia (Megan Hoffman).

The five cackling ladies were riotous as they wobbled about the stage taunting their oppressors with sharp quips and fending them off with water guns.

As the story progresses, batteries to their vibrators die out and many of the ladies succumb to desire and try to escape the stronghold.

When young, handsome characters like Tesitcoles (Samuel Baker) and Kinesias (Luke Bockelman) enter, then ladies’ struggle increases.

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Raging with testosterone the men’s members rise to varying degrees of erection—props to the prop team—as they plead with the women.

Some characters even turn to homoerotic outlets for relief.

Wasserman’s play was chaotically fantastic and showered the audience with frantic scenes that have me wanting to go again to see what gems I missed.

Although the perverse, scrambled nature of “Lysistrata” was overwhelming at times, the cast wonderfully displays feminine strength and truly permeates the message that Hell hath no fury like a woman horny.

 

Photos by Bobby Shipman/The Shield

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Theatre Review: ‘Shoot sperm not bullets’