Theater Reviews: Bury the Dead, Coriolanus, Inherit the Wind 

Also, Abigail's Party, The Bones of Lesser Men, and more

Wednesday, Aug 27 2008

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SISSYSTRATA After last year’s scintillating gay version of The Bacchae, the same production team set to work on this adaptation of Lysistrata, Aristophanes’ ancient Greek antiwar comedy, in which the women of Athens withhold sex from their men until peace is declared. Playwright Allain Rochel and director Michael Matthews leap headlong into a politically incorrect fantasy in which West Hollywood musclemen are called in to help the Iraq war effort, leaving their sissy boyfriends home to whine, bicker and complain — fabulously. Lip-synching drag numbers and lisping limp-wristed stereotypes, worthy of Fred Phelps’ slogan “God hates fags,” abound in this self-mocking production. Unfortunately, under Matthews’ staging, the caricatures emerge as merely embarrassing rather than hilarious. Only Michael Taylor Gray, in the title role, possesses the needed physical and vocal prowess, yet his character becomes absurdly strident rather than satirical. The butch men are even weaker than the sissies as the whole adventure turns flat and tedious. Marjorie Lockwood’s unflattering costumes, especially for the femmes, would shock any snapping queen, who need only swish into any Out of the Closet for better drag. The cartoon set design representing West Hollywood’s enormously popular bar-restaurant The Abbey (substituting for Aristophanes’ Acropolis) provides a bit of visual amusement. Celebration Theater, ­7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Sept. 28. (323) 957-1884 or www.tix.com. (Tom Provenzano)


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