OnyxFest: Majesties

This play is part of OnyxFest 2022, a production of Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (ARTI) and IndyFringe, “Indy’s First and Only Theater Festival Dedicated to the Stories of Black Playwrights.” Initial performances were the weekend of Nov. 3-6 at the Basile Theatre in the IndyFringe building. The second weekend of performances are Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 10-12, at the IUPUI Campus Center Theater, 420 University Boulevard, Indianapolis. Recordings of performances will be available at ButlerArtsCenter.org. For more information, see OnyxFest.com.

By Wendy Carson

Women are creatures of spectacular power and ability. They can raise up or tear down those around them. Yet so many get caught up in the fallacy that their own worth is tangled up within their relationships with men. This was the message that I took away from “Majesties,” Charla Booth’s tale of three generations of women struggling with their past.

Leslie Moliere (Megan Simonton) is an aging singer, no longer booking performance dates as she’s considered by club owners to be past her prime. She also deals with the realization that she is alone because she has always been in love with one man and although they were almost married, he has done his best to torture her while knowing her feelings for him.

Andre (Daniel Martin) is not only the object of Leslie’s heart but also the father of Andrea (Shandrea Funnye), the product of a past fling who left them, whom he claims is only his niece, thus creating sorrow in her heart as well.

Gloria Jean (Katherine Adamou), a past schoolmate of Leslie and Andre, is dealing with her own lack of a man in her life, especially the negligent father of her own daughter.

Through careful calculation by a wise Wellness Center owner (Jamillah Gonzalez) and Gloria’s Mother (Brittany Taylor) these three women are brought together for a spa day in order to resolve their issues with each other as well as their own internal conflicts.

Simonton ably takes Leslie from haughty but sadly regretful of the choices that have led her to this end, while Adamou embodies the conflict of her constant love for her ex and well as the realization that this is a major part of why she can’t find someone new.

Martin, as adept at drama as his frequent comic turns, keeps his character aloof and slimy as Andre mentally abuses every woman in his path.

Taylor does a great job of managing to keep her character’s machinations subtle to make her presence almost a surprise when she shows up at the end, and Gonzalez perfectly embodies her shaman role.

Funnye amazes us by bringing forth the most heart-wrenching story of all, while showing the bravery and power of her character to overcome it all and persist in finding happiness. She also directs, superbly bringing these actors together to give us a show that brings you to tears, enrages you, and inspires you – without being overbearing or preachy.

OnyxFest: Your Love Will Be Judged

This play is part of OnyxFest 2022, a production of Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (ARTI) and IndyFringe, “Indy’s First and Only Theater Festival Dedicated to the Stories of Black Playwrights.” Initial performances were the weekend of Nov. 3-6 at the Basile Theatre in the IndyFringe building. The second weekend of performances are Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 10-12, at the IUPUI Campus Center Theater, 420 University Boulevard, Indianapolis. Recordings of performances will be available at ButlerArtsCenter.org. For more information, see OnyxFest.com.

By Wendy Carson

In “Your Love Will Be Judged,” director and playwright Gabrielle Patterson takes us all to an alternate timeline where divorces are decided by a jury trial. We become privy to the deliberation of six jurors who each have their own strong ideas as to what choice will best satisfy the needs of an offstage couple.

Alicia Sims as Juror 2 feels that the whole thing is cut and dried, but aggressively argues with everyone regarding their choices and reasoning, sometimes nearly coming to blows – she is a sheer delight to watch every second. Haleigh Rigger brings a lot of charm as well as tone-deaf condescension to Juror 1’s “perfect housewife” character. Jacob Pettyjohn makes the “hit it and quit it” attitude of Juror 3 so slimy, you want to mop the floor after he passes. Rodney Smith as Juror 4 spectacularly brings out his character’s “old-school/back in my day” bluster. D’yshe Mansfield is masterfully mellow, filling Juror 5 with the distracted wisdom that only herbal enhancement can provide. Attempting to oversee and contain the varied personalities is Michael Martin Drain as the Foreman, showing all the resolve and exasperation that the position entails.

While, like Sims’ juror, you may feel that the verdict is obvious, the twists and turns of each player, as well as some prejudicial attitudes, will keep you guessing as to the outcome. This show is not only very funny, but also offers material for personal discussions of many of its topics for a good while afterwards.

OnyxFest: A Noise in the Attic

This play is part of OnyxFest 2022, a production of Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (ARTI) and IndyFringe, “Indy’s First and Only Theater Festival Dedicated to the Stories of Black Playwrights.” Initial performances were the weekend of Nov. 3-6 at the Basile Theatre in the IndyFringe building. The second weekend of performances are Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 10-12, at the IUPUI Campus Center Theater, 420 University Boulevard, Indianapolis. Recordings of performances will be available at ButlerArtsCenter.org. For more information, see OnyxFest.com.

By Wendy Carson

Abuse of a loved one doesn’t have to be physical, success sours when it’s not shared, and sometimes things that go bump in the night aren’t so bad, as revealed in “A Noise in the Attic,” by OnyxFest executive producer Vernon A. Williams.

Mr. Adams (ShaQuan Davis) appears to be the perfect husband and father, appropriate for a lawyer with a promising political career. But his daughter Cathy (Vae Savage) is an absolute brat who gets anything she wants from him, including silent permission to bully her stepmother Rita (Selena Jackson-King).

This situation, and the fact that her own desires have to be put on the back burner yet again, has Rita frustrated beyond belief. Plus, rather than do it himself, Adams is making her search the attic to discover the source of the strange noise that has been occurring over the past week.

However, a chance encounter with down-on-his-luck singer Walker (Atiyyah Radford) helps put things into perspective, awakening Rita to the truth about herself and her situation.

In the end, everyone gets exactly what they deserve.

Jackson-King does a great job balancing her character’s compassion for Walker’s plight against her struggles with propriety and devotion to her family, brought to focus by aspiring poet/performer Rita’s brave verse. Davis brings forth all the slick, playboy moves to reflect his character’s selfish attitude towards women. Savage portrays Cathy’s attitude so well, you will fight the urge to show her discipline and what true respect is. With a wry smile, Radford brings us the story of someone struggling his way to the top; his aspirations were crushed by the Pandemic, but not his spirit.

Angela Wilson-Holland is a comical delight as Rita’s Aunt Helen, who tries to talk her out of an obviously crazy plan. Jamillah Gonzalez does a great job of portraying Adams’ secretary, looking to make moves of her own.

Director Debora Farrell has done an excellent job of bring William’s script to life, making each character so realistic you will revel in the karma of the climax, as well as the revelation of what exactly is in the attic.

Journey with ‘Violet’ at ATI

By Wendy Carson

 One quick note before I dive into the review: This is the third production of the musical “Violet” we have seen over the years, the first time based on the 1997 Off-Broadway production, before it was taken to Broadway in 2014. Each local performance has not only been different, but also better than the one before. Therefore, if you have seen the show prior to this, I still strongly suggest you see it, the latest edition, at Actors Theatre of Indiana. It’s a superb production, and I adored it (and not just because my hometown is part of the show).

Written by acclaimed composer Jeanine Tesori with Brian Crawley, based on a Doris Betts short story, the plot has remained consistent: At the age of thirteen, Violet was hit in the face by a flying axe head, leaving her horribly scarred. Years later, in the 1960s, she is on her own and has finally saved up enough money for the bus fare to take her from North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the TV Preacher whom she knows will be able to restore her beauty. Along the way, she befriends a couple of soldiers. The three of them quickly become close, with the men reluctant to let her take the final leg of her journey as they are sure she will be sorrowfully disappointed in her Preacher’s abilities. They are both waiting for her when she returns, healed, but not as she had expected.

Sydney Howard expertly brings out the adult Violet’s hopefulness and sorrow over her predicament while Quincy Carmen as young Vi (in frequent flashbacks) shows the innocence and fortitude that made her the woman she became.

Luke Weber as Monty, the Army Private First Class fresh from Special Forces school, shows the naivete of a soldier looking forward to going to war. Maurice-Aime Green as Flick, the more seasoned Sergeant, reflects the harsh reality of the differences the mere color of his skin brings to his military career and everyday life.

Matt Branic, as Violet’s father, brings out the devotion, stoicism and love of a single parent trying to do the best for his little girl, despite that one horrific moment.

Eric Olson is sheer perfection as the Preacher who may or may not actually have the power to heal, but certainly has the ability to motivate.

While it is easy to present both the Father and the Preacher in a negative light, Branic and Olson each maintain their characters’ humanity as they play their parts in Violet’s life. This is not a story of “good” or “bad” people, but of a journey, and the life lessons learned along the way.

As the rest of the cast play many interchangeable characters throughout the show, one pair does stand out with their true diva roles: Tiffany Gilliam brings down the house as the Music Hall Singer the trio goes out to see while overnighting in Memphis. It is obvious that were she around during that era, she would indeed have been a star on that stage.

Tiffanie Bridges seems to channel the voice of the angels as her turn as Lula, the lead singer in our Preacher’s choir. While her character reminds him that she is singing not for the “show,” but for the Lord, her talent shows this to be true.

ATI co-founder Judy Fitzgerald’s roles include a friendly fellow passenger; other characters, including bus drivers, are provided by Richard Campea and Cody Stiglich.

Director Richard J. Roberts has taken eleven talented singers and actors, a phenomenal script, and a band that can bring such vivid emotion to their music, and given us a beautifully moving show. Pianist Nathan Perry is music director, with musicians Greg Gegogeine, Charles Platz, Kathy Schilling and Greg Wolf. The versatile stage by P. Bernard Killian features a map of the bus route painted across the floor, which includes Fort Smith, Arkansas (where I was born).

Performances of “Violet” run through Nov. 13 in The Studio Theatre at The Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Carmel. For tickets and information, visit atistage.org or thecenterpresents.org.

Cat ‘CAT’ show is so very ‘Addams’

By John Lyle Belden

The Cat, a nice little stage in downtown Carmel, includes in its programs the Carmel Apprentice Theatre, in which local stage veterans work with new and less-experienced performers to bring forth a wonderful experience for actors and audiences alike. Appropriately opening on Halloween weekend, CAT presents “The Addams Family: A New Musical,” by Andrew Lippa with Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.

Based on the famous Charles Addams characters, which went from New Yorker cartoons in the 1940s and ‘50s to television and movies (and even a Hanna-Barbera “Scooby-Doo”-style cartoon in the 1970s, as we see during the pre-show entertainment), the 2010 Broadway musical showcases the family’s unconventional and gently macabre lifestyle while engaging with a wacky comedy premise: Now-adult daughter Wednesday wants to marry a young man from a “normal” Ohio family.  

First-time director Elaine Miller managed to get the best out of this cast of varied experience, including former apprentice turned stage regular JB Scoble as Gomez Addams, writer and dancer (who gets to show off her tango) Audrey Larkin as Morticia, Carmel High senior Jayda Glynn as a picture-perfect Wednesday, Ball State grad Elaine Endris as mischievous masochist brother Pugsley, crew-turned-cast member Jake Williams as charming Uncle Fester, Jeff Hamilton as feisty Grandmama, and classically-trained Evan Wang as the butler, Lurch. (Thing was played by “R.C.”, and Cousin Itt was absent, likely at a hair appointment.) The more conventional Beinecke family are played by Tim West as lovestruck Lucas, Chelsie Christian as his mom and compulsive poet Alice, and Greg Gibbs as buttoned-down dad Mal.

When one is an Addams, you’re in the family forever, so the ghostly Ancestors are on hand as well. They are portrayed by Erin Coffman, Ashley Mash, Diana Pratt, Vivian Schnelker, Mark Gasper, and the stage debut of Sarah Gasper, a natural charmer who after attending dozens of performances of “Addams Family” finally gets to live her dream.

What this show might lack in professional polish is more than made up for in the fun everyone has in bringing this story to life. Given the gusto with which the titular family treat any endeavor, any rough edges actually add to the overall experience. Scoble’s performance stands toe-to-toe (sword-to-sword?) with the likes of John Astin or Raul Julia, and Larkin is dead(ly) sexy. Everyone has standout moments, especially Christian in her “full disclosure” outburst.

While oddness is the rule in this world, one aspect of the musical that, to me, seemed distracting was Fester’s wooing of the Moon (yes, that big rock in the sky). Williams manages to pull off the illogical longing, further aided by Mash portraying the heavenly body, dancing in shimmering gray with matching mask. Miller’s choice in this, rather than using a light or glowing ball, sweetens the scene and makes it more relatable – we see the lover that Fester sees.

Performances of this spooky, “ooky,” fun and funny show run Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 13 at The Cat, 254 Veterans Way, next to Carmel’s Main Street arts and cultural district. For information and tickets, go to thecat.biz.

Bard Fest: Merrily we ROFL along

This is part of Indy Bard Fest 2022, the annual Indianapolis area Shakespeare Festival. For information and tickets, visit indybardfest.com.

By John Lyle Belden

It is said that Queen Elizabeth I was quite taken with the character of Sir John Falstaff in William Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” (Parts I and II). This merry prankster would end up as much the butt of the joke as the instigator, and helps humanize Prince Hal, the eventual King Henry V. So, legend goes, Her Majesty ordered Shakespeare to whip up a play featuring the bawdy knight in love.

The result, by whatever origin, is “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” now presented at the IndyFringe Theatre, directed by Jeff Bick. The comedy is presented in an over-the-top style that common folk who paid a penny to see a show around the year 1600 would have loved. Sir John (Thomas Sebald), who appears to have a beach ball for a belly, is less interested in “sack” wine and more contemplating what middle-aged women he can get in the sack, so to speak.

This production focuses on two comic plotlines. True to the Bard’s penchant for including a wedding in his comedies, young beauty Anne Page (Sophie Peirce) is being wooed by three men: Slender (Ben Elliot), the doltish son of Justice Swallow (Michael Bick), who in turn is friends with Anne’s dad, Master Page (Tom Smith); the very French doctor Caius (Rian Capshew), who has the approval of Mistress Page (Dana Lesh); and young gentleman Fenton (Connor Phelan), whom Anne comes to prefer despite his having the lightest purse.

The other source of drama and mirth is, of course, Falstaff. He covets not one man’s wife, but two, and sends his squire Robin (Lyndsi Wood) with identical letters to Mistress Page and Mistress Ford (Kelly BeDell). The women being best friends, this attempted courtship will backfire in spectacular fashion. Master Page has no doubt his headstrong wife can take care of herself, but Master Ford (John Johnson) is more wary, and goes to Falstaff disguised as fellow lothario “Brook” to get in on the plot.

“Hilarity ensues” is putting it mildly. Much boisterous laughter was had throughout the audience. Adding to the fun in supporting roles are Angela Dill as busily devious servant Mistress Quickly and Ryan Shelton as thick-tongued Welsh vicar Sir Hugh Evans. Other servants are portrayed by Colby Rison, Nelani Huntington, Carolyn Jones and Patrick Lines.

Sebald ably plays the buffoon under the delusion of dignity. Lesh and Bedell are the stars here, with Lucy-and-Ethel chemistry as they gain the upper hand on all the men. Johnson is goofy fun, letting himself be the second-biggest fool on the stage.

And the antics of the Falstaff plot eventually work to resolve the romantic storyline. Shakespeare’s clever like that.

For an evening of silly fun – which includes, just in time for Halloween, a spooky Faerie encounter – meet the Merry Wives this Friday through Sunday, Oct. 28-30, at 719 E. St. Clair St., Indianapolis.

Orange is the new Bard

This is part of Indy Bard Fest 2022, the annual Indianapolis area Shakespeare Festival. For information and tickets, visit indybardfest.com.

By John Lyle Belden

Welcome to a secure common room at a local women’s prison. The ladies of D Block present for the visitors (us) the fruits of their fine arts program, a staging of William Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” adapted by the company with director Glenn Dobbs.

For those like me who sometimes struggle to keep all the Histories straight, Richard II (1377-1399) rules England over 150 years after the fall of King John – who was brother to Richard I (Lionheart), among the first Plantagenet Kings, and the unfortunate subject of another Bard Fest offering this year. Richard will end his reign childless (no obvious heir) as the Plantagenets fracture into the Houses of Lancaster and York in the Wars of the Roses. Also, like John, he is not regarded well by history and lore, considered a tyrant especially as he was a big believer in a king’s absolute power by Divine Right.

As presented by these orange-clad thespians, we easily accept that the mostly-male characters will all have feminine voices. This cast of local actors (not real felons, but play along) get to engage in two levels of character work. Aside from portraying the machinations of the 14th Century English Court, they are also women forged in difficult circumstance, feeling a familiarity to this treacherous culture. At any moment, your blood could be on the floor. To emphasize a challenge, a pack of premium smokes cast down is your gauntlet. Which boss inmate you follow can be a matter of life or death, and that crown – whether metal or bandana – is never fully secure.

Outstanding talents take the lead: Afton Shepard as Richard and Rayanna Bibbs as cousin/rival/successor Bolingbroke; with Damick Lalioff as the Duke of York, Evangeline Bouw as Richard’s faithful noble Aumerle, Savannah Scarborough as Bolingbroke’s right hand Northumberland, Nan Macy as John of Gaunt and the Duchess of York, and Sofy Vida as the banished Mowbray and secretive Bishop of Carlisle. Great contributions as well by Missy Rump, Genna Sever, Gracie Streib, Rachel Kelso, Jamie Devine, Gillian Bennett, Gillian Lintz, and a special shout-out to young Ellie Richart as Richard at coronation.

Shepard gives the kind of strong performance we’ve come to expect from her, showing all the various infamous aspects of the King, delivered with an instability that flows from the madness of power to the wilder madness of being without it. Bibbs gives a commanding performance like someone who somehow knows he will be the title character of the next two plays in the series. Bouw gives us a tragic character we can feel for, a young Duke sure he is on the right side – until he isn’t – then all too desperate to redeem himself. Lalioff smartly plays York as shrewd and decisive (things Richard is not), enabling him to ride the changing tides. Macy is again a marvel in her paternal and maternal roles.

It is from this play we get the line, “let us… tell sad stories of the death of kings,” and what a story we are delivered here! Three performances remain, Friday through Sunday, Oct. 28-30, in the Indy Eleven Theatre at the IndyFringe building, 719 E. St. Clair, Indianapolis.  

IRT’s ‘Chinese Lady’ a living history lesson

By John Lyle Belden

Afong Moy was the most amazing exotic spectacle many people had ever seen, and she just had to be herself.

Born in China, circa 1820, Moy was effectively purchased from her family by American merchant brothers Nathaniel and Frederic Crane as an enterprising way to promote the sale of Chinese goods in New York. Starting at age 14, she would sit in an exotically furnished room while people who had paid admission (starting at 10 cents a person, a nickel per child) would watch her. She would occasionally walk briefly on her tiny, traditionally-bound feet. She would eat delicately with chopsticks. She would ritually make tea. She could even talk through her Cantonese interpreter, Atung.

This was the act. It made her a sensation, touring the U.S. and even getting a meeting with President Andrew Jackson. But by the Civil War era, not even exploitation by P.T. Barnum could save her fading stardom. However, playwright Lloyd Suh notes that America is still staring, still curious, yet misunderstanding the otherness of Moy and her people – not acknowledging that Asians are as human as the ones outside the room, looking in.

Indiana Repertory Theatre presents the local premiere of Indy-area native Suh’s “The Chinese Lady” on the IRT’s intimate Upperstage, where Mi Kang sits as Moy, presented for our edification, with the help of Trieu Tran as faithful but “irrelevant” Atung. Direction is by Ralph B. Pena, who has been with the play since its world premiere with Ma-Yi Theater Company in New York in 2018.

Kang, who has stood in Moy’s special shoes since a Chicago production earlier this year, brings an amiable, appealing charm to the “Lady” who became a public curiosity as a girl. As naïve as one would expect, the teen has us rooting for her with her ambitious perspective. She sees herself as a sort of cultural interpreter (something 21st-century audiences would be more familiar with) bringing awareness of both the differences and similarities between two peoples. To the gawkers, though, she was mainly – as Jackson himself plainly put it – just another curiosity, a prettier freak show.

Atung sets up the show, brings it to a close, and sets it up again. It is his job, a burden to his body, and as Tran lets us subtly see, to his soul. Being a little older and experienced (and being bilingual, knowing what the Whites around him are actually saying) he is aware, but doesn’t want to do more than hint to Moy the truth of her situation. He confesses to us a unique love for her, but never forgets his place in this world. With practiced inner fortitude, he puts on a stereotypical smile, lifts the bells and (*ching!*) gets on with another performance. Ironically, like his ill-used countrymen elsewhere in America, it is “irrelevance” that keeps him employed.

Kang lets Moy gently age before us – seen at 14, 16, 17, 29, 44… – and gain a sense of how she is being used, but she never lets go of her sense that she is still a sort of ambassador, that her mission of unity is still attainable. Filtered through that perception, she gives us a serious perspective on the events of her century.

“I have always thought Lloyd’s play to be timeless,” Pena says in his program note. “Today, I think of it as timely.”

There is no death record of Afong Moy. As this blending of Suh’s words and Kang’s performance demonstrate, “The Chinese Lady” is still with us, inviting us to look, and to understand.

Performances run through Nov. 6 at the IRT, 140 W. Washington St., in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. Get tickets and information at irtlive.com.

Civic opens season with ‘Rent’

By John Lyle Belden

“Rent” is very much of its own time – the struggles of Generation X to make their mark as the AIDS epidemic wreaks havoc on creative and marginalized communities – yet our recent encounter with an incurable plague makes the lyric, “one song before the virus takes hold,” feel all too familiar.

In this context, the Jonathan Larson masterpiece musical takes the stage of the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, directed by Michael J. Lasley. We meet filmmaker Mark (Austin Stodghill) and songwriter Roger (Joseph Massingale), living what they thought was rent-free in a building now managed by ex-roommate Benny (Kerrington Shorter). There are also friends Tom Collins (Austin Hookfin) and Angel (Kendrell Stiff), free-spirit Mimi (Jaelynn Keating), and activist Maureen (Olivia Broadwater) who left Mark for attorney Joanne (Miata McMichel), as well as a full cast representing the hoi polloi of New York City, including Julia Ammons, who is a stunning soloist in the signature song, “Seasons of Love.”

Act One centers on a particular Christmas Eve in the 1990s, giving us the lives of our characters in that pivotal day; Act Two carries through the next year, with its changes and loss.

If you are familiar with the show, picture the perfect Maureen: Broadwater solidly fits the bill. Stodghill portrays Mark well, and Massingale – master of unconventional manly roles (like in “Bonnie and Clyde”) – is well within his element here. We feel the chemistry between the couples: Roger and Mimi, Maureen and Joanne, and especially Tom and Angel. Civic newcomer Stiff has big high-heels to fill in their iconic role, and does not disappoint.

Circumstances had Wendy elsewhere, so I brought my friend, Mary, as my plus-one. Her impressions: “’Rent’ was fantastic. Thought Roger and Mimi had great chemistry. Angel was absolutely gorgeous. And even though I have watched [the 2005 film] countless times on DVD, I didn’t expect to get emotional during [the] death scene. Watching it live just hit me differently.”

This is why you should experience this musical, and bring a friend, as well as Kleenex (you’ll need it for the curtain call).

Performances run through Oct. 22 at the Tarkington in the Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Carmel. Get info and tickets at civictheatre.org or thecenterpresents.org.

Bard Fest: Women give men a (very) hard time in ‘Lysistrata’

This is part of Indy Bard Fest 2022, the annual Indianapolis area Shakespeare Festival. For information and tickets, visit indybardfest.com.

By Wendy Carson

With the Indy Bard Fest production of “Lysistrata,” Holly Hathaway-Thompson has done an amazing job of updating Aristophanes’ story of women’s empowerment. She not only made the storyline more accessible to a modern audience, but also shows the true meaning behind its purpose: Women have the power to change everything if they just stand together in their resolve.

The story begins in the not-too-distant future with a young girl (Missy Waaland) approaching her grandmother (Miki Mathioudakis) for more information about the election of 2022. Grandmother is horrified to learn that only a sentence or two about this time exists online and one of those is on bleach vaccines. She then begins the story, “There was this woman …”

We are transported to an alternate reality of Greece in which Lysistrata (Carrie Reiberg) has called together all of the women of the various tribes to set about her plans for P-E-A-C-E (the spelling of this word is vital throughout). Though many of the representatives have disputes among themselves, they all agree that they are sick and tired of their men being away at war all the time. Lysistrata puts forth her simple plan: They will all withhold any romantic or sexual favors until the men agree to give them a Peace.

Surprisingly for some, this is almost as difficult for the women to uphold as it is for the men to endure. Therefore, the women take over the capital for themselves alone until their demands have been met. The men do not take kindly to this tactic and try everything to persuade the women from their resolve. However, even the most bull-headed of them men finally give in to their basest needs and agree that they will meet the demands of peace, healthcare, education, living wages, etc. This brings about the blissfully benevolent future of our Grandmother and Grandchild – a future where men do not control women’s bodies or destinies.

With the source material being a comedy, Hathaway-Thompson has given the cast some truly hilarious lines throughout. Her amazing cast manage to squeeze every possible drop of laughter from each one.

Reiburg brings a slyness to Lysistrata you don’t always see in this role. This was a woman who literally brought a nation to peace with a very simple plan. Mathioudakis is brilliant in her dual roles as Grandmother and Colonice (Lysistrata’s closest ally), bringing the wisdom and experience of both characters. Waaland’s turn as the Grandchild and Ismenia allows us to see the counterpoint naivete of her youth.

Tracy Nakigozi portrays Andromeda as a wary but proud woman who puts aside personal conflicts for the good of the whole. Lucy Fields as Lampito is a comic delight as she bemoans the travails of this lack of intimacy upon herself as well as the men. Scott Fleshood (Xander), shows another side of this longing as the lone representative of those who also love men even though being born with a Y chromosome. Samantha Kelly (Medora) and Nikki Lynch (Cassandra) both do a great job of helping to keep the men in their place.

Jessica Crum Hawkins (Myrrhine) plays one half of a married couple that, despite their love and desire for each other, are still at odds on the matter. Matthew Socey (her  husband, Cinesias) brings comic timing to a new level as he is continually and painfully denied the fulfillment of his desires.

Also at loggerheads are the Leader of the Women (MaryAnne Mathews), Leader of the Men (Robert Webster), and the Magistrate (Eric Bryant) each of them chewing up the scenery as if it were their final meal.

Speaking of the men, being that the story surrounds the baseness of themselves, they are mainly comic relief. However, each brilliantly shows their ability to handle these barbs – especially Jurrell Spencer as the Herald who has apparently “cut a hole in the box.”

I was saddened to discover that most of the audience had never head of the story, but proud of their reception to it afterwards. I do adore this play. It has an important message and it needs to be heard throughout our country and the world.

You have your chance this Friday through Sunday, Oct. 14-16, at The Cat theatre, 254 Veterans Way in downtown Carmel.