Director: Ailin Conant
Reviewer: Joanna Trainor
After drills, push ups, and avoiding being hit by traffic; Hector’s army ushers the audience into their barracks for this evening’s entertainment. Drinks, songs and chats with the recruits, set the scene nicely for their play within a play.
Aristophanes’ Lysistrata gathers the women of Athens and Sparta to swear an oath to withhold sex, until the men stop the war they’ve been fighting for years. The soldiers cheer each other on as they head out onto the stage to perform their part. There are penis jokes galore; clarinets, coke bottles, flags, the comedy is perfectly timed. The chorus of old men’s dance is a particular treat.
Cinesias and Myrrhine’s scene uses physical theatre brilliantly to create huge helpings of hilarious sexual tension. Chris Montague’s two litre bottle is sucked, smacked and strapped down, and his face is a picture. After taking the oath with the Athenians and Spartans, it gives the play a real sisterhood feel for the women of the audience, making Myrrhine’s power over her husband all the more enjoyable.
The setting of an army base is certainly not forgotten, and Aristophanes’ words take an exceptionally dark turn, in their new circumstances. The final scene has enormous power; Lysistrata’s dedication to her cause leaves her far from the hero in the Greek play. The rage that Beth Smith has brought to the character during the piece, comes to a head and pushes her over the edge. This time the laughing and singing from the ensemble is sickening, and there’s only a deadly silence as the audience file out.
Lysistrata is a play that was designed to make people think about the impact of war, but Fourth Monkey’s interpretation leaves you in such shock that it’s impossible not think about what you’ve just seen. From feeling very much a part of the antics of young soldiers at base camp, to not knowing where to look in the space of one act, Fourth Monkey’s reputation for talent and putting on impressive pieces of theatre is definitely maintained by their two year rep company.
Photo: Anthony Hollis | Runs until 21st June