That Athenian yockmeister Aristophanes (448-380 B.C.) created the perfect anti-war stratagem in the guise of high-born matron Lysistrata, who convinced all the ladies on both sides of the battle lines to deny their sexual favors until their testosterone-driven mates put down their arms. During the course of the current conflict with Iraq, there have been many productions and readings of “Lysistrata” performed around the world in protest of the war.
Scripters Joanna Bloem and Mark London Williams have updated the action to present-day Washington. The plot points are often cleverly stated but the production suffers from woefully amateurish perfs that are not alleviated by the uninspired, often chaotic staging of helmers Duke Stroud and Lanette Ware.
The evil doings going on in our nation’s capital are chronicled by comely D.C. call girl and computer expert Unity (Loriele New), who flows in and out of the action as both a narrator and participant. Co-scripter Bloem assumes the role of Lyssa, a Houston-born Washington matron whose sister just happens to be the First Lady (Joleen Tropp).
When Lyssa discovers that hubby Herb (George Williams), weapons designer Sonny (Britt Chichester) and the President (Sean Laughlin) are so frenzied about winning the war they are creating a top-secret missile system that could destroy the world, Lyssa enlists the cooperation of friends Cleo (Tina Gloss), Sarah (Summer Simmons), Marie (Molly Weber), as well as Unity and the First Lady, in a scheme to not only deny their spouses their conjugal rights, but to take over the Pentagon and destroy the missile system before it can be used. Complicating matters are the shenanigans of Sarah’s overly covert CIA agent husband, Jake (Chris Kennedy); a ragingly patriotic cross-dressing Marine (Marty Papazian) and a horny-to-the-max vice president (Edwin Garcia).
Whatever the intent of the production, the lack of onstage veracity seriously undermines the farcical elements of the work as well as the intended anti-war message. The ensemble often seems confused as to when and where to make their entrances into and exits from the curtained off “black box” setting. There is an aura of uncertainty to most of the interaction, as if the cast is making up the staging as they go along.
There are a few welcome exceptions. Simmons is quite believable as a resilient but long-suffering wife who has decided it is time for her husband, the always-on-assignment CIA op Jake, to stay home for good. Weber is comically effective as the ditzy Marie, who is willing to do anything to help end the bed boycott.
The lights of Brian Detweiller do little but mark the end of one scene and the beginning of another. However, David Sonenshein’s creative sound design underscores the intended mood of this earnest but misguided legit venture.