Elders, wieners and Greeks, oh my!

By Griffin Brammer, Digital Communications manager

The one thing you should know about Aristophanes’ Lysistrata is that it is the original sex joke. It tells the story of the titular Lysistrata (played by Olivia Pretcher), who summons the women of Greece to Athens to put an end to their country’s tedious wars. Her solution? Lock themselves in the Acropolis until their husbands are so horny that they have no choice but to stop fighting, just so they can have sex with their wives. Yeah, it’s a lot to take in. 

Photo courtesy of @xaviertheatre on Instagram
Xavier Theatre’s most recent production of Lysistrata: A Woman’s Translation was certainly a show to turn the heads of any onlookers. With vulgar, brash imagery and wild props this comedy did not disappoint.

At this point, it’s important to address the elephant in the room: This show is vulgar. I find that important to note, as the few days between me taking this article and seeing the show’s Sunday matinee, every single person I talked to who saw it felt that the use of fake penises was the biggest takeaway to note. 

In essence, crudity is this show’s selling point, so the easily offended may be left with a sour taste in their mouths. 

The rest of us, however, were left with a welcome surprise. When one pictures a campy sex-travaganza set in ancient Greece, you can expect a certain number of clichés.

However, for every box I checked on my predictions list of dick jokes, I also found one new thing to be pleasantly surprised about. Slapstick fight scenes between the elderly, baby throwing — even the aforementioned prosthetic penises were so cartoonishly overexaggerated, sticking a whopping two feet out from each actor’s bodies, that it was hard not to crack a smile. 

 Though this play’s humor may be its greatest strength, it is also its greatest downfall. The show does, at many times, make modernizations to the classic Greek humor, with varying degrees of success. Because of these adjustments, the play does struggle to successfully find its true tone as, akin to the Athenians and Spartans, the ancient influences and modern references do sometimes jarringly clash with each other.

I especially noticed this in the beginning, where after a relatively classical dialogue between Lysistrata and Calonice (played by Emily Bruns), I was caught completely off guard by the scene transition in which a group of elderly men did a “sound off” inspired march to burn down the acropolis. Luckily, the show seemed to lose this trend over time.  

 This is more so a grudge with the script itself, rather than the Xavier Theatre department. Pletcher and the cast do a fantastic job with what they have, and I found the elderly Greek chorus to be the stars of the show when it came to execution. 

There is, perhaps, something to be said about subtlety. When boob and bulge jokes are coming at you at the pace of Lysistrata, not every joke needs a nudge and a wink to the audience.  

Lysistrata may not go down in Xavier history, but it sure will be one that is looked back on fondly by audience and actors alike. Funny, endearing and with a shockingly poignant message about women in politics, Lysistrata is a rousing success for Xavier Theatre.

⅘ stars