Lysistrata at Theatre in the Round

A battle of the sexes

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$22 245 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
612.333.3010; through Sept. 30

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One reason ancient Greek theater has endured for thousands of years is that the plays touch on fundamental human conditions, conflicts, and emotions. That they are well-constructed stories certainly doesn't hurt, as this revival of Lysistrata at TRP proves. Adapted by director Craig Johnson, the story centers on a subject guaranteed to generate laughs — sex — while making larger points about conflicts big and small. In Athens, Lysistrata is tired of the constant wars that have savaged the Grecian city-states, so she and the women of the island hatch a plan: no sex until the men come to the negotiating table and hash out their problems. At first the menfolk don't believe the women are capable of it, but as time goes on and their desires grow stronger — represented by the erect phallus poking out beneath their tunics in the second act — desperation sets in. It's pretty bawdy stuff, with lots of double entendres tossed about and, you know, erect phalluses galore beneath the tunics. The battle of the sexes also plays out between competing male and female choruses, who berate and attack each other without ever really trying to communicate. That is the deeper context here — about listening and compromising — that plays along with the obvious modern-day analogues of a war-based economy and seemingly eternal conflict. The company is strong from top to, ahem, bottom (see, now I'm doing it), led by Jean Williamson as Lysistrata. This is a character haunted by the loss of her son in war, and that always lies near the surface of Williamson's performance.

 
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