FOLLOW THE WAR CRY OF "LYSISTRATA" AND PREPARE TO LAUGH


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Almost 2500 years ago in ancient Greece, Aristophanes penned a seriously funny comedy about one woman's crusade to end the Peloponnesian War. With a grand battle cry, a courageous gal, Lysistrata, rallies her female brigade in a unique plan to force their male lovers and husbands to lay down their arms and surrender in peace.

This mightily clever plan has been transplanted and wildly updated by Jen Wineman, an innovative and inspired adapter and director of "Lysistrata." It will boldly dance across the stage of the Nafe Katter Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut until Sunday, March 8.

Think improv comedy, slap stick, burlesque and add a healthy dose of Groucho Marx, Commedia dell'Arte and modern pop music, and you still won't be close to describing this physically funny theatrical experience. Wineman has moved the story to World War II when folk heroes like Rosie the Riveter were embodying a female work force, ready, willing and most able to assume the jobs of the men who went off to fight.

When Lysistrata, a fiercely focused and vocal Lisa Birnbaum, calls an emergency meeting, she summons Calonike (Adetinpo Thomas), Myrrine (Madison Coppola), Lampita (Arlene Bozich), Venus (Shavana Clarke) and Serena (Susannah Resnikoff) to join her protest. With a rallying cry of "peace is more important than pleasure," she urges her charges to withhold all sexual favors until the men sign a treaty of surrender.

On an amazing set designed by Geoff Ehrendreich, the story explodes in farce that is blatantly bawdy and lavishly lewd, not to mention outrageous in an enormously obvious way. There's nothing subtle about this talented troupe, with costumes to the max and mini by Fiona Shaw-Mumford.

The entrance of the Commissioner of Public Safety, a double-talking Blake Segal, moves the comic battle to new heights and lows of humor. Will the women, headed by a determined Lysistrata, prevail? Is sex the newest weapon in the seemingly endless series of war games?

For tickets ($7-30), call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu. Performances are Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The Nafe Katter Theatre is located at 820 Bolton Road, Storrs.

Strip shows and sex strikes exploit the women's perfume and powder power as they seek to transform weapons into statues of peaceful doves.

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