'Lysistrata...the Musical!' at Capital Fringe: Let's talk (and sing!) about sex

MEN ARE FROM MARS: Sex drives the tuneful
MEN ARE FROM MARS: Sex drives the tuneful "Lysistrata." (Public Seed Theatre Company/capital Fringe Festival)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Fiona Zublin
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, July 21, 2010; 10:14 PM

"Lysistrata" unfolds thusly: The Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta have been at war for 20 years, so the women of both cities storm the Acropolis in Athens and take control of the state treasury, refusing to fund the fighting and bringing an end to the war. It's extremely progressive, considering it was written in the 5th century B.C., and . . . well, yeah, there's this other part where the women go on a sex strike until their husbands cease fighting. But really, since the men are always out of town anyway and there are probably prostitutes in the army camps, that's not as important. The sex strike is the lurid part of the story, so that's what gets the attention, no matter how little sense it makes.

In Public Seed Theatre Company's "Lysistrata . . . the musical!," the sex takes center stage, with songs like . . . well, we can't quote the lyrics in a family newspaper, but they're generally funny and tuneful, performed by a cast of great voices. Katie Nigsch Fairfax and Autumn Seavey in particular are really worth hearing.

The piece, which plays at the Warehouse through Sunday, feels somewhat flat when no one is singing; the dialogue is long on sincere and direct, short on clever. However, authors Ariana Hodes, Jeremy King and Vishal Vaidya are clearly having a lot of fun with a story about everyone's intense sexual frustration -- even that of the Greek gods. Although anyone who has a passing familiarity with Greek mythology will be puzzled by the goddess Hera's determination to go on her own sex strike to force celibacy on her husband, Zeus. Yeah, that'll make him be celibate.

Zublin is a freelance writer.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company