Company: Funky Little Theater Company
Venue: Funky Little Theater, 2109 Templeton Gap, Colorado Springs CO, 80907.
Running Time: 2 hours (includes 15 minute intermission)
Date of Performance: Saturday, August 22, 2015.
Despite the contemporary vibe you’ve come to expect from a theater called “funky,” you might be surprised to know that they have revived a very old script for their current production. Lysistrata opened in 411 B.C. in Greece. I’m not that great with math, but 2,015 + 411 would make Lysistrata 2,426 years old this year. Can a script that old be either relevant or contemporary?
The answer is a resounding yes. Lysistrata speaks to two issues that apparently never go out of style: the real or apparent power of women, and war.
We don’t have any reviews of the original production, but we can assume that Aristophanes made some waves in his Greek theater community. The script gets very specific about sex, as the women go on strike, refusing to satisfy their mates until they make peace between Athens and Sparta. Lest you think I exaggerate, here’s the plan:
All we have to do is idly sit indoors
With smooth roses powdered on our cheeks,
Our bodies burning naked through the folds
Of shining Amorgos' silk, and meet the men
With our dear Venus-plats plucked trim and neat.
Their stirring love will rise up furiously,
They'll beg our arms to open. That's our time!
We'll disregard their knocking, beat them off—
And they will soon be rabid for a Peace.
“Their stirring love will rise up furiously.” This text is loaded with puns, double entendres, and downright graphic references to genitalia and intimate acts. Some things haven’t changed in 2,500 years.
Funky Director Chris Medina maximizes the comedic elements of Lysistrata, hamming up the sexy parts with gestures, facial expressions, and some phallic props of extreme dimensions. It’s a wise move; one can’t miss the tension, the frustration, and the discomfort the women visit on the men until they relent and make peace. Medina doesn’t miss any opportunity to squeeze a laugh out of these upright, rigid, suffering males.
Which brings me to something important; Lysistrata is not for everyone. It’s adult fare, based on the language and subject matter. That said, though, some adults apparently have a problem with strong, smart women getting the best of some fairly lame guys. Chris Medina tells me that a couple of customers complained of “man bashing” as they left. That’s unfortunate. Theaters don’t deliberately antagonize customers, but they often challenge their audience. It’s a legitimate role for theaters. So if you’re uncomfortable with a show that uses humor to show women getting the best of men, Lysistrata is not for you. That’s a shame; you will miss a very funny show.
Not to be lost in the carnal comedy here is the message about war. It has depleted the supply of husbands. Whether the women go on strike because they miss their men or because they oppose the war is a difference without a distinction. War widows then, as war widows now, would generally do anything in their power to bring their men home safely. Lysistrata makes that point by pooling the power of women
The source of all the mayhem is Lysistrata, played here by Jenny Maloney. Maloney is a cunning, scheming Lysistrata. She manipulates both sexes by turning horniness into a tool for peace. Maloney is indignant when she catches the women sneaking out for encounters, and she comes down hard on them (pun intended). Maloney shames them into chastity, all in the name of peace.
The cast is obviously having fun; I suspect there are some raging parties after the performances at Funky. Myrhine (Michelle Pantle) exudes both an innocence and a worldliness, and she clearly enjoys torturing her husband Cinesias (Jareth Spiro). She leads him on, then stands him up, time after time. (Again. Pun intended) Spiro, for his part, is beyond frustrated, and it’s too hard for him to handle. (Again.) He’s unable to hide his growing, throbbing concern (last one for now):
Ah, what shall I do? Whom shall I screw,
cheated of the loveliest of them all!
How will I raise and rear this orphaned cock?
Is Fox Dog out there anywhere?
Lease me a nursemaid!
It would be blogger malpractice to leave Désirée Myers out of this piece. Not only does she stir the pot with a mischievous charm, she does so in the most outrageous wig ever seen onstage. Her afro must be the size of a bushel basket, and she wears it well…at least when it doesn't slip off her head.
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. (Oops. That one wasn’t intentional.) It’s about the laughs, and there are a LOT of them. I could point out that sex and politics are still entertainment fodder for the masses, just as they were in Aristophanes day, but that would be stating the obvious. 2,426 years later, men are not always thinking with the head they find on their shoulders, and women are still left home when the politicians decide someone else must go to war.
Perhaps Funky Little Theater could do a Lysistrata benefit performance at Fort Carson. Take the show on the road to the place where men, women, and war mix it up every day. I’m sure they would recognize the tension of long deployments and the power of intimacy denied.
I suspect many of the men and women at Fort Carson could use some laughs, and Funky’s Lysistrata might just be the way to get them.
There is ample free parking at the strip mall where the theater is located.
There are adult themes and adult language in Lysistrata. Discretion is advised for children under 15.
It doesn't hurt to do a little research before the show if you're unfamiliar with Lysistrata. Doing so would be helpful to understand both the context and the comedy.
This show closes on August 28, 2015.
Director: Chris Medina
Set & Lighting Design: Chelsie Rigor
Costume Design: Delaney Hallauer
Stage Manager: Will Sobolik
Lysistrata: Jenny Maloney
Calonice: Emma Colligan
Lampito: Jennifer Westrom-Crabtree
Myrhine: Michelle Pantle
Councilor/Spartan Ambassador: Earnest Mazyck
Cinesias/Athenian Ambassador: Jareth Spirio
Men’s Chorus Leader: Taylor Geiman
Men’s Chorus: Grant Langdon, Dylan McClintock
Women’s Chorus Leader: Desirée Myers
Women’s Chorus: Sallie Walker, Christina Vilgiate
Ensemble: Kailey Gillen