Lysistrata 3000 | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Lysistrata 3000 

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LYSISTRATA 3000, American Demigods, at the Athenaeum Theatre. It seems every young company eager to make a political statement instinctively reaches for Aristophanes' antiwar comedy, in which Lysistrata incites the women of Athens to go on a sex strike. If only writer-director Rory Leahy had had the sense to preserve the dignity of the original in this turgid reworking, set in a dystopian future where citizens crowd the streets in Greco-Roman rags and sip lattes. Lysistrata 3000 proves to be an ass-backward mix of high-minded drama and old-fashioned sci-fi schlock, including a military plan to combat "vicious acts of attrition" with "the dreaded goo of death."

Leahy's main contribution is a litany of dick jokes, which culminates in Ajax's particularly crude recommendation for resolving his swollen state. The adaptation's cut-and-paste approach, folding in bits of the original dialogue, turns really ugly when Leahy's performers recite the five-dollar words with glazed expressions. The energy is low throughout most of the first act but gets sucked out of the theater completely once the merciful intermission is over. Altogether it takes two hours of incoherent rambling and penny-dreadful buffoonery just to cut to the heart of the matter, when Leahy bluntly labels Lysistrata "an older chick who totally speaks out." Imagination has, like, finally failed us.

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