Fringe review: Lysistrata

LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes (how.dare.collective). At the Painted Lady.

LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes (how.dare.collective). At the Painted Lady (218 Ossington). July 10-13 at 7 pm, July 15-16 at 2 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNNN

Cocktails at The Painted Lady on Ossington aren’t the only things getting shaken and stirred up during Fringe.

An imaginative burlesque rendition of Lysistrata, using a slightly condensed version of Aristophanes’s script, elicits constant cheers and scores of laughs.

Burlesque performer St. Stella plays the titular role. It begins with her calling a meeting to invoke the women of Athens to withhold sexual contact in order to force the men to negotiate peace with Sparta. Once she convinces her fellow females to join this cause, they seal the agreement with a drink – in a modern nod, it’s boxed wine.

The men, of course, aren’t pleased, but the women hold their ground. The talented cast ensures the energy soars throughout and so does the sexual tension, especially in a scene that includes a tango number with Brittany Cope and Sebastian Marziali playing husband and wife.

Kay Brattan’s staging makes use of every part of the room, often placing the performers on top of the long bar, which helps with sightlines. St. Stella and Marziali also serve as choreographers, creating rousing performances to songs like You Don’t Own Me and Run The World (Girls).

Stevie Baker’s costumes and props are sexy and whimsical, with rhinestones and beads artfully placed. The Painted Lady is a small venue – get ready to get very close to your neighbour, and definitely buy your ticket early.

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