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Lysa and the Freeborn Dames at La Boite Theatre - Review

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by Marina Marangos (subscribe)
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411 BC and we are still not there
The demographic was admittedly a little younger then us but that did not deter us from going to see this wonderful new and vibrant production at La Boite Theatre in Kelvin Grove. Claire Christian makes her La Boite debut with this razor-sharp exploration of power, possibility, and female politics.

If you are a young adult, it is compulsory viewing in the best possible sense, same applies if you are in high school, though be warned that there is plenty of coarse language and if you are of a certain age, a bit like your reviewer, you will probably be very pleasantly surprised at how well you fit, even represented in this marvellous play.

The story is loosely based on Lysistrata the ancient Greek play by Aristophanes originally performed in Athens in 411BC. The play involves a feisty woman Lysistrati, who persuades her women friends to withdrew sexual favours from their men until the men showed a willing inclination to talk about peace and to end the Peloponnesian war. This inflamed the battle between the sexes and was a remarkable exposition of how difficult things were for women but how willing they were to use what little power they had to bring about results.

La Boite Theatre
La Boite Theatre

The modern day version involves a particularly feisty woman and a few of her close mates. As is often the case with young people who leave home, their eyes are opened to issues that take on a whole different significance. This is exactly what happened to Lysa King who came home after a year of being away, having experienced Women's marches in the world and returning to a sleepy little town where the annual event called War Weekender is about to take place. This is largely a male-dominated affair on a football pitch with perhaps its expected outcomes of bad behaviour, patriarchal attitudes and boys will be boys events. Well, Lysa is having none of this anymore and has returned to shake things up and make the town sit up and pay attention to her list of demands which are reasonable and fair. Or so she thinks. But her way of going about getting them acknowledged is unconventional to say the least and this has her locked in battle both verbally and occasionally physically with friends and family.

Tania Vukicevic
Tania Vukicevic

Tatum Mottin
Tatum Mottin

The whole scenario is embellished by a phenomenal Women's Chorus Χορωδια - that is what they are called in Greek - who often act as the explainers of the event and pass judgement on the happenings. In this case, the women are all mature women who recount sometimes collectively and sometimes separately the efforts of women to be heard and taken seriously.

This is not, however, a dry political and feminist awakening with the obvious outcomes. It is a carefully constructed, witty exchange of ideas and provocative positions, some of which get shouted down and others of which get through. They are enriched with the emotional tangles of this small and tight-knit group of friends with some hilarious moments and joyous ones at that. The audience cheered when one of the pairs finally admitted a love for one another.

The plot is clever and the script races along with some cracking lines and asides especially by the members of the chorus. Being 57 and waking up to the realisation that you don't have to cook a hot Xmas dinner in the searing heat was one such, which had the whole audience laughing out loud. It is often a matter of choice, but women very rarely make the choices for themselves but for others. You would think that from 411 BC we would have had time enough to make the changeσ but in fact, it has been painfully slow. Things are changing and women are making more choices which involve themselves and more decisions about how they want to lead their lives but there is a whole lot more to do.

"This place is every place" the chorus says - and indeed it is. These are arguments we have met before and struggles that we have come across. For 90 minutes though, we come to appreciate the strength of character of one young woman to try and effect these changes almost single-handedly. While they are often shouted down or grudgingly accepted the reality is that inch by inch change is coming about.

We all owe it to ourselves to play a role in this change. Go and see the play.

WARNINGS: Adult Themes, Coarse Language, Haze, Strobe Lighting

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Why? Witty and sharp play about women today.
When: 21st July to 11th August 2018
Phone: 3007 8600
Where: La Boite Theatre. 6 Musk Ave, Kelvin Grove QLD 4059
Cost: as per programme.
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