by Carmel Morgan
April 11, 2009 -- Rosslyn Spectrum, Rosslyn, Virginia
DC’s unique movement/theater company, Synetic Theater, teamed up with Georgetown University’s Theater and Performance Studies Program to present “Lysistrata,” Aristophanes’ comedy from 411 B.C. The play, although centuries old, bridged the time gap by addressing themes that still captivate in today’s world – namely war and sex and their related power struggles. Dramaturg Jacqueline E. Lawton spiced up the production with modern-day wit. The result was a powerful peek in the mirror at ourselves as well as at mistakes of the past.
Synetic contributed its signature style of physical theater to the co-production, helping to make “Lysistrata” visceral and compelling. Tsibili Chabukiani Ballet School graduate Irina Tsikurishvili provided the lively choreography. The actors moved throughout the work, climbing from one level to the next of the towering set composed of tiered scaffolding, which was designed by Robbie Hayes. Among the poles and platforms, the women, led by Lysistrata (Deidra LaWan Starnes) waged war, withholding sex from their mates until the men agreed to make peace in exchange for making love. Lysistrata’s mission succeeded, but not without tempting, teasing, and tons of humor.
Visually, the work was replete with sexual gyrations and madcap martial arts moves. The costumes and music were more contemporary than BC, with the plotting women wearing lingerie and combat boots, and the music, by Synetic’s resident composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze, delivering a lot of techno marching beats and machine gun blasts. Men and women enacted battle scenes and sex scenes while shifting in and out of shadows created by lighting designer Dan Covey.
Adult language spewed forth throughout Lysistrata. Bedroom talk boomed. All sorts of slang mocked male private parts and various sex acts. The young cast aptly handled the humorous linguistic elements, causing giggles to erupt in the audience on cue. “My body is my business,” the women declared, taking pleasure in the double meaning. A cowboy song garnered the most laughter. To the tune of “Desperado,” a man strummed “Lysistrata, Why don’t you come to your senses….”
“Lysistrata” bared mature themes, of course, but comedy carried the day. Having Synetic Theater participate in the joint production of “Lysistrata” allowed it to come across as physically lively, fresh, and charming. Despite some raunchiness, overall the performers were sweetly raucous. May peace (and comic conflicts) reign.