Skip to main content

Lysistrata

King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars

When a group of brightly-dressed young women walk onstage with pastily made up faces and microphones in their hands, at first glance you could be forgiven for mistaking them for an X-Factor style girl group, desperately aiming to please. Given that the door they've just walked through is a giant gynaecologically inclined opening of another kind, this is the first hint that things aren't quite what they seem in this riotous new version of ancient Greek comedian Aristophanes' radical sex comedy.

Aristophanes penned his knockabout meditation concerning a sex strike initiated by the women of Athens and Sparta in order to bring about a swift end to the interminable Peloponnesian War in 411 BC. In the hands of the newly inaugurated Attic Collective – a fresh initiative from Festival City Theatres Trust to shake up their programme while giving a year-long opportunity to an ensemble of eighteen young actors – director Susan Worsfold's audacious staging looks eye-brow-raisingly current.

Given that Worsfold's production arrived onstage this weekend on the back of the worldwide Women's Marches, this is even more the case in a seventy-five minute show that gets to grips with radical feminism with an irreverent glee that isn't shy of talking dirty, channelling twenty-first century pop culture as it goes. Pussy Riot and a pneumatic Kardashian who puts out as Reconciliation are all in the mix, and the amount of blow-up rubber phalluses being sported onstage by a chorus of horny but ultimately impotent men in suits suggests that Edinburgh's hen night party shops might be in need of a restock.

With so much going on, this is an understandably messy affair, but the cast, led by Cait Irvine as a commanding Lysistrata and Conor McLeod as the leader of her macho opposition relish in every minute of it. Adam George Butler's Cinesias revels in his limp ridiculousness, while Sally Cairns's Myrrhine and Imogen Reiter's Calonice reclaim their power with unabashed cheek. The thrust, as it were, of the story's modern-day political parallels is made even more explicit by some of the placards on display.

As a statement of intent, the Attic Collective's first outing under Worsfold and creative producer Cat Sheridan's artistic leadership is throwing down the gauntlet and ripping up the rule-book about what can be done by a young company on a big stage. This makes for penetrating stuff on every level.

The Herald, January 30th 2017

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…