Hamlet ditched Lysistrata stitched and pitched

Luisa Jojic’s Lysistrata leads the revolution with Quelemia Sparrow, as ancient Greek comedy informs contemporary politics and Indigenous reminder of land and tradition.  (Photo: Tim Matheson)

Daniel J. Rowe

The play is Hamlet.

The play is, now, Lysistrata by Aristophanes at Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park Sen̓áḵw:, a village remembered well by the Coast Salish people of the west coast and everyone who went to BOB’s only non-Shakespeare play of 2018.

The set up is such: bard on the beachers are getting ready to put on Hamlet, and, much to Colleen Wheeler‘s dismay, opt for Lysistrata instead, as Hamlet in all his meandering thoughts is a man who does nothing, while Lysistrata and her band of Grecian sisters cause a revolt.


Because the city is rezoning the traditional Sen̓áḵw: village area (now Vanier Park) for a shipping terminal.

Protect our park (POP) and it’s variations becomes a rallying cry to the thespians at Bard on the Beach (BOB), who swap Hamlet for Greek in Lysistrata. (Photo: Daniel J. Rowe)

Director Lois Anderson‘s play-within-the-play centres on Lysistrata (Luisa Jojic) and her Grecian revolutionaries who band together to deny their warrior men carnal pleasures until they sign a peace treaty to end the Peloponnesian War. The “play-thrown-together-at-the-last-moment” set up is entertaining if strained at times. There are a few scenes that drag on past their due date, and an audience participation scene that is, well, a little much.

However, the play is incredibly entertaining and relevant with its blend of politics, history and comedy. Musqueam Quelemia Sparrow‘s constant reminder of territory’s past goes beyond boilerplate land acknowledgment statements, and gives the play a political edge that aptly balances its comedy; it drags ancient Greek theatre into the 21st century as the two cultures mirror one another in their patriarchal, militaristic, industrial colonialism.

It is actually a very clever play in addition to being thoroughly enjoyable cover to cover.

Costume designer Barbara Clayden and choreographer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg need to be mention as both artists shine as bright as any of the actors on stage. The old men v. women fight scene is very funny and clever, and you can’t help but marvel and laugh at each costume’s entrance.

Who ever thought a bunch of used toilet paper rolls could look as regal as a spoon?

The play is the third BOB play the Bard Brawl has reviewed with a heavy dose of quality feminism running through its core, which is such a pleasant treat. In addition, it gives quality space to a collection of quality actors from a variety of backgrounds.

Check it out. There’s still time.

Peace (Jennifer Lines) is bruise and compromised as Lysistrata (Luisa Jojic) attempts a revolution. (Photo, Tim Matheson)




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