"Make love, not war" goes the saying. To which the International Lysistrata Project adds, "Make theatre, too." On Monday (March 3), theatre artists around the world voice their opposition to war in Iraq by staging readings of Aristophanes' comedy Lysistrata, in which women from opposing states refuse to have sex with their husbands until the men stop fighting. Too bad we have to choose among competing local productions.
Cara Pifko and Aviva Armour-Ostroff present a version with Kate Lynch, Layne Coleman, Jordan Pettle and Kristen Thomson at Factory Theatre. Across town at Lula Lounge, you can catch Babes Not Bombs, presented by Belltower Theatre's Maev Beaty and PIr2's Vanessa Shaver, with a performance featuring Ellen-Ray Hennessy, Dinah Watts and Erika Hennebury, followed by a discussion on how to oppose the war. Both pwyc shows donate the box office to Physicians for Global Survival. Mark Cassidy directs a third production at Humberside Collegiate. See listings for details, or check out www.lysistrataproject.com.
Who woulda expected some of the best work at the 25th Rhubarb! to be done by manipulated objects? (OK, and the actors behind them.) One of the fest's highlights was Sarah Phillips's Joan, a puppet-inspired take on Joan of Arc, complete with a wonderful ensemble singing John Millard's compositions and a design by Sherri Hay and Camellia Koo. We especially liked Karin Randoja's passionate Joan and Richard Greenblatt's wolfish MC.
Then there was Jess Dobkin's From The Waist Up And Down, a dreamlike exploration of lezzie love featuring a live pair of dyke boob puppets trying to make a date. Or maybe just get laid.
Our fave, though, was the audience-interactive Puppet Buffet: We Don't Serve Rat, especially the Abbott-and-Costello pairing of the lecherous, tiny usher, Earl (Mark Keetch), and the Camera (Noah Kenneally), a talking, picture-taking machine (it delivered "photos" of rats no matter what's in front of the lens) with black tripod legs, each ending in a bright red sneaker. Finally, cardboard-box parts with real personalities.
The graduating students of George Brown Theatre tackled one of the pinnacles of contemporary English theatre, the first part of Tony Kushner's Angels In America, Millennium Approaches. And if they didn't reach the top peak under director Jennifer Tarver, it wasn't from lack of trying.
The standout performance was Lara Cotnam's as the neurotic, prescient Harper, whose moods flashed like lightning and whose Mormon husband (Steve Blaxall) may or may not be gay.
We wish the Angel had had more to do in the play, for Athena Lamarre vibrated with the right energy when she finally appeared. Earlier in the show, Lamarre nailed another role, that of Roy M. Cohn's manipulated, scared male doctor.