Aristophanes' The Acharnians: One Man's Private Peace During the Compassionately Conservative Bombing Campaign on Canada, the Adventures That Befell Him Thereafter, and What Jesus and the Tooth Fairy Had to Say About It All | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Aristophanes' The Acharnians: One Man's Private Peace During the Compassionately Conservative Bombing Campaign on Canada, the Adventures That Befell Him Thereafter, and What Jesus and the Tooth Fairy Had to Say About It All 

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Aristophanes' The Acharnians: One Man's Private Peace During the Compassionately Conservative Bombing Campaign on Canada, the Adventures That Befell Him Thereafter, and What Jesus and the Tooth Fairy Had to Say About It All, Tripaway Theatre, at Prop Thtr. Not long ago Jon Stewart observed of our culture wars, "The far right wants to take us back to a place that never really existed, and the far left wants to move us to a place that, if it did exist, would be unbearably boring." Tripaway's remounting of its ham-handed 2001 version of Aristophanes' antiwar comedy provides a snapshot of what that lefty place might be like--and it's not just boring, it's witless and as smugly self-righteous as the Christian right.

Adapters Karin Shook and Kerstin Broockmann place the story of a simple farmer who declares a private peace with his nation's hapless enemy (an oil-rich Canada here) in a context where nearly every shibboleth of the left is given equal if incoherent time. So instead of the original's sharply observed satire on warfare, we're fed cliche-ridden screeds about the evils of genetically modified food and reparative therapy for homosexuals, the illegitimacy of the 2000 election, and just about every other damn thing you can imagine.

I called Shook's direction of the 2001 production "turgid and one-dimensional," and that judgment still holds. Satire is essential in these troubled times, but staying home with Stewart's Daily Show would be more enlightening and entertaining--and cheaper--than enduring this mess.

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