- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

Revel in the frisky side of celibacy and forced abstinence in a flirty and deliciously bawdy new adaptation of Aristophanes‘ sex comedy “Lysistrata,” an inspired collaboration between Synetic Theater and Georgetown University’s Theater and Performance Studies Program.

The pairing is reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn’s quip about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers — he gave her class, and she gave him sex.

Synetic’s Irina Tsikurishvili brings the company’s trademark articulate, movement-based theater to the production’s choreography, a sinuous swirl of undulating hips and arms, arabesques and balletic extensions vibrantly performed by a cast made up largely of Georgetown undergraduates and alums. Synetic’s other contributions include the multilayered soundscape by Konstantine Lortkipandze and the minimalist approach to stage design, in this case a metal jungle-gym set where the men engage in endless battle and the women teasingly display their charms.

What Georgetown director and adapter Derek Goldman brings to the mix is a lusty sense of fun and a beautifully distilled text. While Synetic’s shows are always lovely visually, the dialogue (and its delivery) can be stilted. Not here. Mr. Goldman’s adaptation expresses Aristophanes’ themes of senseless war and gender politics with suppleness and economy.

First performed in 411 B.C., “Lysistrata” depicts a country ravaged by a conflict between Athens and Sparta that has gone on so long one barely remembers why they are fighting. The treasuries are depleted, and the women are tired of gathering up the dead and wounded and bearing sons who will grow up only to go off to war.

The women — on both sides of the battle lines — led by the headstrong Lysistrata (an Amazon-warrior-like Deidra LaWan Starnes) decide to take matters into their own hands. They go on a sex strike — no more under-the-covers maneuvers until their men lay down their arms.

The most enjoyable part of “Lysistrata” depicts the sexual frustration of the red-blooded modern male: Tempted by skimpy, lingerie-type clothes and come-hither dance moves — poured on here with all the subtlety of a Beyonce music video — he can look all he wants, but he can’t touch.

The frequently X-rated dialogue is a bawdy treat for mature audiences, especially a run-down of euphemisms for male genitalia that one-ups “The Vagina Monologues” and a hilariously filthy take on the Eagles song “Desperado,” sung by a trio of lonesome cowpokes.

As Lysistrata wisely opines, “No man can have a happy life if his woman doesn’t want him to.” Amen to that, sister. Synetic and Georgetown’s staging of “Lysistrata” is a winning combination of empowerment and entertainment.

★★★★

WHAT: “Lysistrata,” based on the play by Aristophanes, adapted and directed by Derek Goldman

WHERE: Through April 4 at the Gonda Theatre/Davis Performing Arts Center, Georgetown University, 3700 O St. NW; April 11 through 26 at the Rosslyn Spectrum, 1611 N. Kent St., Arlington.

TICKETS: $40

PHONE: 202/687-2787 or 800/494-8497

WEB SITE: www.synetictheater.org


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