The premise of Lyz! (Samuel Beckett Theater), a new musical adaptation of Aristophanes’s Lysistrata, is not devoid of
comic potential. In Giuliani’s
increasingly puritan New York, a group of women decide to withhold sex in protest against masculine greed and insensitivity. But the hypothetical laughs go unravished by the play’s creators.
Lyz! opens as activist Lyz (Jill Paxton) gathers her friends and convinces them to gird their loins with chastity belts until the menfolk change their wicked ways. In this black-and-white world, women are good, men are bad, and the only way the ladies can teach these old pigs some new tricks is by not turning any. As if these stereotypes weren’t ridiculous enough, the script maintains a peculiar PC double standard. Whereas the African American and Hispanic women are afforded a measure of dignity, the WASP and the
Jew are reduced to noxious
caricature. And while the white men must promise to cease corporate takeovers, the men of color must agree to stop
selling drugs and guns.
Book writer and lyricist Joe Lauinger demonstrates little wit and less whimsy. He never met a dirty joke he didn’t like, nor can he resist the temptation to intercut the naughty
bits with sentimentality and preachiness. While the prevalent acting style derives from the school of mugging, the cast does demonstrate some pleasant singing and dancing— though the choreography looks like it was cribbed from
a high-school production of Grease!. The play’s overwhelming tedium is somewhat relieved by a second-act sight gag that features the sex-starved men sporting three-foot-long erectile projectiles. Guess what they make a limbo stick out of?