King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

The Attic Collective’s adaptation of Lysistrata is certainly true to the spirit of Aristophanes’ original play, though it takes the story to extremes I’ve never witnessed before: bawdy, rambunctious and featuring even more inflatable phalluses than you’re likely to see on the average rowdy hen night, it’s also liberally sprinkled with acerbic comments about contemporay political developments (including the inevitable Trump reference).

First performed in Athens in 411 BC, the play is a wry condemnation of the patriarchal society that held sway at the time. Lysistrata (Cait Irvine), tired of watching her husband trotting off to take part in the latest battle of the Peloponnesian war (a conflict which raged on for thirty years), enlists her female friends to join her in a sex strike – the women of Athens, she insists, will not agree to pleasure their husbands until a peace deal can be struck with their adversaries in Sparta. Aristophanes’ point is that sex can be a powerful weapon and that, when men are deprived of it, they will do pretty much anything to earn the right to enjoy it once again.

This is a spirited ensemble production from this emerging new company, brash and clamorous, incorporating music, movement and vocalisation. For a while there, I didn’t really think this was going to be for me , but it gradually exerted its considerable strengths and, by the conclusion, I had been won over. Mind you, this isn’t going to work for everybody. If you’re at all prudish, this may not be your cup of bromide, but as a gutsy interpretation of a classic text, it certainly achieves its aims.

3.8 stars

Philip Caveney

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