Michael Liebhauser and Trezure Coles in “Lysistrata” at Theatre at Monmouth. Photos by Kat Moranos

As the world debates the effectiveness of the latest weapons technology, the Theater at Monmouth is presenting an ancient Greek play portraying an unusual attempt at ending a war.

The venerable theater is kicking off its 53rd season, which will include a repertory of shows selected around the theme of “It’s Greek (and Roman) to Me!”, with a raucous and randy production of Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata.”

The play concerns an attempt by the women of Greece to end the Peloponnesian war by withholding sex until the male warriors, out of a growing and at times quite discernible frustration, are forced to agree to make peace. To hedge their bet, the women also grab the treasury.

Director Danielle Drakes, a youthful cast and a talented crew have added extra layers of sauciness to gather the many angles of satire and farce within the play into a tantalizing whole.

Engaging music and dance numbers considerably enriched the opening night mood in the ornate theater. A Michael Jackson-style funky backbeat inspired the young cast members to show their best moves while adding a line or two in familiar-sounding vocal accents to meet the director’s stated goal of making this production “accessible to our audience but also faithful to the spirit of ancient Greek theater.”

The cast of “Lysistrata,” starring Trezure Coles, center, as the title character, at Theater at Monmouth.

The 90-minute play, with no intermission, was a mixture of high and low comedy with serious messaging, often poetically delivered, that was not always easy to sort through. It’s a riotous comedy that digs deep and there’s an ever-present risk of missing an important line while you are still thinking and/or laughing about the last one. There’s also a question of simply being able to hear all the words amidst the tumultuous dynamics.


At the center of the play is the Athenian title character, played by Trezure Coles. She’s a take-charge woman who has had enough of the failures found within a world dominated by men. Coles is riveting in the bold, brassy and very funny attitude she exudes as she pushes her female followers into committing to a rebellion that will bring the men down a notch and restore peace. Her performance is a major reason to recommend this production.

Erin Amlicke, Jamie Saunders and Tennah Sillah play Lysistrata’s feisty, if not always focused, collaborators. Each has a moment to shine as their character’s traditional gender roles are challenged. Saunders is enticing in her character’s playful teasing. Sillah becomes the earthy pal to Lysistrata, and Amlicke stands tall as a Spartan ready to rumble.

The players don masks to become slightly spooky chorus members in “Lysistrata.”

Thomas Campbell, Michael Liebhauser and Ray K. Soeun take the male (and some female) roles. Campbell, the only Monmouth veteran in the cast, has a chance to step forward as his character’s sufferings become unavoidable to miss. Liebhauser also takes slapstick advantage with the part of an ineffectual magistrate hopelessly overmatched by Lysistrata. Soeun notably reveals a fine sense of comedic delivery.

All get to don masks for a time to become slightly spooky chorus members intent on telling the “real” story on the mostly architecture-based set by Nadir Bey. Costumes by Elizabeth Rocha keep the period feel intact. And some prominent prostheses add a giggle factor to this fun update of a perennially relevant play.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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