A play about making war – and not making love…
The Talbot Theatre production of Lysistrata both entertained and delighted this member of the audience, who was there partly because of an English assignment requirement, but mainly because of the opportunity to enjoy a live theatre production. The theatre company employed many different components to bring this antiwar play to life that evening on the stage.
These components can be broken into three categories, which visually enhanced the text of the play. The first of these categories is the setting, the stage lighting, and the props. The second component is the symbolism of some of those props, and the third component is the character portrayals by the actors on the stage.
To take us back to ancient Greece, the props master employed a very simple interpretation using columns on a raised set of steps, with a backdrop of blue. To add to the feel of the era, a statue stands in the middle of the platform. This platform serves double duty as the Akropolis and as the Citadel, both of which the women have occupied. When the men light a fire below the walls of the Akropolis, smoke pours out of the bundle of sticks, making it appear as if a fire has really been ignited. Fortunately the women are ready and the fire is extinguished and the men all doused with water, which is portrayed well with buckets and actions that look as if the men are being driven away by the water. When Kinesias comes to see Myrrhine, and they head off to Pan’s cave, the stage lighting is dimmed to give the effect of the darkness of being in a cave. The most strikingly visual use of stage props is the appearance of larger than life erect phalluses under the tunics of all the male main characters during the second half of the play.
These seemingly grotesque male members serve to symbolize the frustration of the men. However, they are also a symbol of how the men’s political power has been superceded by the primitive urge for sex, and how the women now hold power over the men. The statue, which is on the platform, is dressed in armor and symbolizes the war. The shield is taken by the women to be used for the purpose of swearing their oath, but they quickly realize that they cannot swear for peace on a shield used for war. This warrior statue disappears at the end of the play, reappearing as a female, the statue of PEACE, considerably shapelier and more enticing to the men.
The characters presented the most impressive visual component. Lysistrata was portrayed perfectly as a down-to-earth woman who...