When walking into King’s Theatre to see ‘Lysistrata’ performed by The Attic Collective, I must confess, I didn’t know what to expect. I have studied Greek plays before but I had never read or seen ‘Lysistrata’. Before I went, my friend who was also coming to see it with me, (who loves the play) gave me a brief run down of what happens in it but I still was not prepared for the hilarious play that awaited me that evening.
The Attic Collective are a new theatre company based at The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. They are a repertory company and, over the course of each year, will produce 3 plays, an ancient play (Lysistrata), a new play (War in America – 24-27 May) and a musical (The Threepenny Opera 15-16 September). The company is entirely made up of young people and that was an idea that really intrigued and excited me as obviously, it is difficult for young people to get opportunities in the theatre industry and I have to say, they performed this play beautifully.
For those who are unfamiliar with Lysistrata, the basic premise is that the women of Athens want to put an end to the war that has been going on for 30 years and so they decide to deny their husbands sex and leave the house until peace is brought about. The play consists of two main choruses – male and female – with more prominent characters within each. The women are set apart from the men even through their costumes using bright colours to contrast against the men who were all dressed in white, all except Lysistrata. The strong female leader in the play is also dressed in white, perhaps to highlight her strength as the same, if not stronger than that of the men in the play and showing her on the same level as them. We see the women grow in strength throughout the play as they change from being quite unconvinced by the idea of giving up sex to strong and willing to change for no one. This is also mirrored by the men who seem to grow weaker as at first they mock the women and their idea but by the end of the play are desperate to have them come home.
The play is full of innuendo and dirty jokes which were fully enjoyed by the audience and performed extremely well by the company especially by Adam George Butler who played Cinesias as he lugged a large phallic object around on stage with him, showing his frustration at his errant wife Myrrhine (Sally Cairns). The bawdy, slapstick humour was portrayed very well and left all of the audience laughing, many in hysterics by the end!
Special mention must also be made to Cait Irvine who played Lysistrata with so much strength, dignity and grace. In the light of the current political climate (to which many references were made during the show), strong female characters are more important than ever and Irvine carried this character tremendously showing the different and complex sides to her character fully.
The show also included a lot of music and sound effects which were very interesting and gave a surreal aspect to some of the scenes when reverb and mic effects were used. I really enjoyed all of the sound effects however, sometimes, when lines were being said over the music or sound design, the lines did get a little lost so some jokes were missed. The choices of music however gave more room for humour as songs by feminist band ‘Pussy Riot’ were featured alongside classics such as ‘I Will Survive’.
Overall, I really enjoyed seeing The Attic Collective present ‘Lysistrata’. They brought an ancient play up to date through it’s timeless issues and current references leaving the audience laughing the whole way through. I would give it 4 stars and I can’t wait to see what The Attic Collective come up with next.
Guest Reviewer: Katy Galloway