The first line in Ranjit Bolt’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata is “Where the fuck are these women?” Which tells us right away that this is no “faithful” translation of what is perhaps the world’s oldest sex farce as well as one of the earliest political satires. The comedy about the women of Athens, fed up with constant war, denying sex to their warrior husbands until they quit fighting is smutty and slapstick and, says director Kara-Lynn Vaeni, more sexist than most people realize. The women in ancient Athens had few rights and no political voice, so the notion of “a play where women had thoughts and did things was a ridiculous idea,” Vaeni says. “It’s not a pro-woman play at all.” But the production at the all-women Mount Holyoke College turns the original on its head. “Rather than male actors playing women and men, here the women ‘play men,’ with all the fun stereotyping that implies — all from a woman’s point of view, and not a sensitive one either. It’s visceral, it’s bawdy, it’s offensive. Its women are active, not precious, and there’s no sugar coating.”
Nov. 20-23, $3-5, Rooke Theatre, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley. Reservations (413) 538-2406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.