nytheatre.com review by Eva van Dok
Liz Estrada is playwright Ellen K. Anderson's new adaptation of
that saucy play written by Aristophanes a few thousand years ago. And
I’d say that her updated version, performed outdoors at the La Plaza
Cultural Community Garden, would probably make the original author of
Lysistrata blush. According to most historical accounts, that was a
damn difficult thing to do.
August 15, 2002
Anderson succeeds in transporting Aristophanes’ ancient call for peace during the Peloponnesian War to our very near future—the year 2045, 100 years after Hiroshima. Peace seems hopeless as both sides are on the brink of leading the planet into global obliteration with their weapons of mass destruction poised and ready to fire. Sick and tired of the violence that takes their men away for years at a time, Liz Estrada and her glam-rock babe band "Daughters of the Dead" decide to take some drastic action to stop the ongoing civil war between the two opposing sides (which are aptly named "Our Side" and "The Other Side"). Liz and her band audaciously grab five minutes of unmonitored global broadcast time and declare a planet-wide sex strike—"Peace or no piece for you/Peace or no piece of me"—in order to stop the violence.
The first fifteen minutes of the piece are the weakest—the ensemble came pretty close to losing me only because I couldn’t hear them in their outdoor space. Heather Ondersma’s directing is crisp and lovely in all other areas—it was a shame that the actors didn’t always win the physical and vocal battle over the sounds of Mother Nature. However, the sheer charm and talent of the cast, combined with Anderson’s fresh words, brought me back into the sex-charged action time and time again.
There is a serious side to Liz Estrada, but it’s the most subtle part of the piece. We’re so entertained by the chaos that creeps up in a world without sex (polar caps melt due to extreme body heat, Mt. Vesuvius threatens to erupt), we don’t realize that Anderson’s adaptation is an introspective meditation on gender roles and the futility of war.
Other highlights include Full Monty-esque dancing by the Chippensoldiers, "suicide ejaculators," and great one-liners ("Don’t masturbate, negotiate"), but what particularly struck me was Ondersma’s casting. Liz’s sexy rock band, and Liz herself, were a myriad of female beauties of all shapes, types and sizes that would, and should, appeal to all.