Review: Lysistrata (Canopy Theatre Company)

Toronto’s Canopy Theatre Company presents Germaine Greer and Phil Willmott’s adaptation Lysistrata: the sex strike, based on the ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes. It runs until August 6, 2011, at the outdoors Philosopher’s Stage.

Lysistrata is the woman who wants to see an end to the bloodshed caused by the Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece. This bold woman decides to take matters into her own hands and rallies women from all sides of the war. Their goal: to withhold from sex with their husbands and lovers so that the battle will end swiftly.

Unfortunately, this battle of the city-states becomes a battle of the sexes once the virile men find out about the sex strike.

Adapted by the famous feminist writer Germaine Greer and British playwright Phil Willmott, this version of the classical Greek comedy becomes a modern-day tale. Lysistrata is filled with raunchy innuendo and vulgar language – the making of a great evening outdoors.

I watched the performance on Saturday, and unfortunately, midway through the performance we were hit with a torrential downpour, and the rest of the show had to be cancelled.  As a result, so far I have only seen the first hour.  I will return later this week to see the rest of the show since the theatre company offers free rainchecks for cancelled performances, but I wanted to get my initial thoughts up as soon as possible.

Based on what I did see, Lysistrata sticks out to me as being very sexual in a self-aware way. This is likely due to Greer’s spin on the Aristophanes text. The jokes were funny and the audience looked like they were enjoying themselves.

The performance that stood out to me was Gaby Grice, who plays Kalonike. I laughed a lot at her approach in executing jokes. My theatre companion Agnes commented on how much she enjoyed the performances of the male actors. How’s that for battle of the sexes?

Generally speaking, the actors are diverse in physicality and personality, which makes for an interesting cast.

My one fret over this play is its location. I found the acoustics of the Philosopher’s Stage left something to be desired.  Some of the actors seemed to be straining their voices to be heard in the open arena, which took away from the play and the actor’s capacity to show expression in their voice.

This play has witty dialogue and a fun, varied ensemble of actors supporting it. I look forward to seeing the second half of it. Pack a blanket or, if you don’t mind sitting along the perimeter, bring a lawn chair and see Lysistrata on a hot summer’s evening.

Oh, and only bring your parents if you are extremely comfortable with them, and just plain don’t bring your kids if they’re not yet adults.


– Lysistrata: the sex strike is an outdoor play that runs Wednesdays to Saturdays until August 6, 2011

– The show is presented by Canopy Theatre Company and takes place at the Philosopher’s Stage at the Philosopher’s Walk

– Shows start at 8pm

– Tickets can be purchased at the entrance or online