I suppose it was inevitable that critics would engage my play Lysistrata 3000 less on its own merits than in the context of how oversaturated the theatrical world has been with productions of the original ancient Greek comedy, particularly of late, but Nick Green’s review [Section Two, February 27] nonetheless contained a number of factual errors, false assumptions, and baffling conclusions. He has set himself up as the defender of the original’s purity while making it clear that he’s not all that familiar with it, therefore I feel compelled to issue this point by point refutation:
“It seems every young company eager to make a political statement instinctively reaches for Aristophanes’ antiwar comedy, in which Lysistrata incites the women of Athens to go on a sex strike.”
Evidently, Mr. Green did not read the program (I suppose he was not obligated to do so), in which I state that the show was first written and produced several years ago and is explicitly not intended as any kind of topical “political statement.” It’s meant to be a good story first, politics are incidental.
“If only writer-director Rory Leahy had had the sense to preserve the dignity of the original in this turgid reworking.”
I’m curious as to what element of the original’s dignity Mr. Green would have had me preserve. The part where the women dump buckets of water on the men’s heads, or the part with the giant phalluses?
“Lysistrata 3000 proves to be an ass-backward mix of high-minded drama and old-fashioned sci-fi schlock.”
Ass backward? So the old-fashioned sci-fi schlock should have come first?
“Leahy’s main contribution is a litany of dick jokes…”
This is absurd. The original is rife with dick jokes. Aristophanes is the reason they invented the word “bawdy.” My version has far fewer.
“…which culminates in Ajax’s particularly crude recommendation for resolving his swollen state.”
What I find telling about this bit of the review is how casually Mr. Green references the character of “Ajax” with no explanation or context for the reader. Perhaps this is because Mr. Green assumes the reader familiar with the original play will have some knowledge of the famous character of Ajax, as surely as one might know say, Creon from Oedipus Rex, oh yeah, Ajax from Lysistrata. Perhaps Mr. Green is unaware of the fact that Ajax is wholly my invention and does not appear in any previous version of the play! I mention this only because it seems to undercut the great position of authority from which Mr. Green pretends to write.
“The adaptation’s cut-and-paste approach, folding in bits of the original dialogue, turns really ugly…”
What “cut-and-paste approach”? My play uses virtually none of the original dialogue! There are perhaps two or three archetypal moments in the entire two-hour show where I pay tribute to the original fleetingly, using some of the original sentiments; even then the phrasing is largely my own.
“…when Leahy’s performers recite the five-dollar words with glazed expressions. The energy is low throughout most of the first act but gets sucked out of the theater completely once the merciful intermission is over.”
My kickass actors can defend themselves. This is an aesthetic judgment, a poor one, but it cannot be refuted by facts and logic as the rest can.
“Altogether it takes two hours of incoherent rambling and penny-dreadful buffoonery…”
OK, it’s entirely possible that I ramble, but incoherently? I may have lots of words, but I believe they flow pretty logically, and I invite anyone to demonstrate otherwise.
And “penny-dreadful buffoonery”–what does that mean? Is that Mr. Green’s theatrical erudition talking again? My understanding of the term “penny-dreadful” is that it refers to turn-of-the-20th-century melodrama or horror stories; it’s generally not associated with comedy or “buffoonery.”
“…just to cut to the heart of the matter, when Leahy bluntly labels Lysistrata “‘an older chick who totally speaks out.'”
Again, I’m dumbfounded. The allegedly climactic line is spoken in the first 20 minutes of the show (which is when Mr. Green obviously stopped taking notes), and the character who speaks it is a young admirer of Lysistrata’s, a character with her own voice that is certainly not the show’s voice. It is in no way emblematic of the play as a whole, certainly not “the heart of the matter,” and it is truly puzzling that Mr. Green chooses it to glibly summarize the themes. Oh yeah, and to bash the fact that we’re young.
“Imagination has, like, finally failed us.”–Nick Green
Glad to see you make use of the first person plural when discussing a failure of imagination, Mr. Green.