Twist on ancient Greek play brilliantly evokes girl-power comedy’s earthy bawdiness.

Speaking across a gulf of 2400 years, Aristophanes' raunchy comic fantasy about women abstaining from sex to force their men to end the Peloponnesian War delivers an emphatic affirmation of sassy, get-it-girl empowerment.

Michael Hurst's racy adaptation is true to the spirit of the play rather than the letter, with Athenian women strutting the stage as Sex and the City-style cougars while the Spartans are given an amusing East European vibe.

Classics scholars may be disappointed to see Aristophanes' sparkling verse replaced by coarse modern idioms but there is compensation in the inclusion of ancient Greek poems presented in beautiful musical settings with John Gibson's score creating a strangely hypnotic fusion that is both timeless and contemporary.

The blending of ancient and modern is most effectively carried off in Shona McCullagh's choreography which brilliantly evokes the earthy bawdiness of the comedy while hinting at the inaccessible world of Greek ritual with surreal dance sequences that celebrate the wild power of unrestrained female sexuality.


The superb 13-member cast throw themselves into the robustly physical staging as they prance and cavort in various stages of undress.

As Lysistrata, Amanda Billing establishes a powerful regal presence that is hilariously undercut as her raucous followers reduce her to the exasperation of a tormented school teacher. The male chorus offers a virtuoso display of clowning as the hapless chaps are subject to a sustained barrage of mockery and humiliation.

Cameron Rhodes gives the show a topical spin with the smoothly patronising rhetoric of an oily politician, and Paul Glover's military berserker wins plenty of laughs.

Audiences should be warned there is explicit content particularly in the portrayal of male genitalia but the tone is bawdy rather than obscene and probably rather tame compared with the original Greek staging at the festival of Dionysus.

What: Lysistrata
Where: Q Theatre, to August 23