Lysistrata, The Albany 16 May

**(*)

Picture from GSMD website

This was rather an engaging production of Lysistrata .  I’m not sure that’s what is required; obscene would be better.  We did benefit by the appearance of some phalloi, but they were rather modest–for full comic effect I think they need to be ludicrously large and to comprise balls as well as cock.

As we went in, men were asked to sit downstairs and women upstairs, which raised worrying possibilities of audience participation.  In the event, some couples naturally enough refused to obey and participation was limited to rhetorical calls for support from the Chorus of Old Men.

Some things worked well: the scene of Myrrhine (Rosie Reynolds) tormenting Kinesias (Jherad Alleyne) with interminable preparations for bed; and also some genuine choral singing at the end–in fact, the use of live  music was good throughout.  I was impressed by Paapa Essiedu’s rough streets-of-London Commissioner, and thought this was an idea that could have been applied more consistently.

On the downside, there was a lack of structure–the opposing men’s and women’s choruses need to reflect each other much more closely than they did here I think.  I often have the feeling at unsuccessful performances of Greek drama that the assembled forces would have been better off doing a modern play, and here my choice would have fallen on the Beaumarchais (not Mozart!) Figaro as a more suitable sex comedy for these charming and good-looking young people. On occasions the pathos of Lysistrata (Michaela Coel) pitting herself against the massed ranks of men also recalled a modern misinterpretation of Antigone.

Ms Coel had some problems with projecting her voice sufficiently and also with dominating the playing area.  That’s what you need for Greek drama–none of this TV-style subtle malarkey.  The same issue of projection affected some of the other actors as well, but Lysistrata really needs to dominate the play named after her.

Overall, what you need is order opposing obscenity.  Nice young women getting their kit off was no more obscene to the Ancient Greeks than it is to us; but stubbly men with monstrous phalloi under their women’s dresses would be.

See here for other Greek plays I know about in London.

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One Response to “Lysistrata, The Albany 16 May”

  1. John Cartwright Says:

    Went to the first and last night and must say the change was immense. Lysistrata (Micheal Cole) had poise and strength and I heard and understood every word. Strongest scene was the first one with all the women. The male chorus did not improve however.

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