Women In Power

Jamie Walters as Blepyros and Michelle Fox as Praxagora in 'Women in Power'. Photo: Bud McLoughlin

Jamie Walters as Blepyros and Michelle Fox as Praxagora in 'Women in Power'. Photo: Bud McLoughlin

Clockwise from top left: Ellen Gough, Lauren O'Leary, Joanne O'Brien, Danielle Sheahan and Kate Nunan. Photo: Bud McLoughlinIn a production committed to bringing the lessons of the drama to bear on our own times and circumstances, Limerick Youth Theatre lends a contemporary twist to Aristophanes’ Greek comedy, Women in Power. It is set in Athens “where something is rotten” - but not in ancient Athens, no man: this political and literary satire is ensconced in the battle for power at the Academy of Theatrical Humanities (and Extraordinary Notions of Stardom), a performing arts high school for talented young theatre students.  The late Kenneth McLeish’s adaptation and, apparently, world premiere is a play within a play where women, fatigued but not downtrodden by the dominance of their male contemporaries who make all the decisions and take all the best roles, stage a clandestine coup to take control and produce a play where “Sisters do it for Themselves.” 

Utilising all the elements of Aristophanes’ mass-appeal, coarse kind of humour, LYT bring energy and verve to the production whilst keeping the satirical intent floating on the surface. In essence the original play is a light hearted treatment of women trying to wrest the power of government from men, which would have been pure theatre of the absurd 2,500 years ago. Aside from its obvious relevance to corruption in government and its address to cleaning up the political and economic mess of the country, it highlights the ongoing struggle for power that still exists to a decreasing degree between men and women.  

In an eleven strong cast headed by Michelle Fox’s Praxagora, the pro logo character with all the great ideas, LYT achieves an energising, uplifting, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable performance. As the action moves on and the women steal political and sexual power, the all-singing, all-dancing Michelle Fox as Praxagora. Photo: Bud McLoughlincast never lose a moment to enthral the audience with their energy and enthusiasm.  Many speeches made by the central characters, particularly Praxagora and her husband, have immediate truths that resonate with nuances and these actors savour the dialogue and bring it alive.

Humorous, articulate, sly and manipulative but well intentioned, Praxagora is expertly performed by Fox.  Imparting all these characteristics with subtlety and skill, Fox is a bit of a show stealer which is exactly how we would perceive Praxagora.  But she is very well supported by her ladies and men who adore and loathe her in various measures. Jamie Walters and Ross Bennett as Praxagora’s husband, Blepyros, and neighbour and other perplexed husband, Pheidolos, are no less dynamic in character as the huffers and puffers at Praxagora’s achievements but who are secretly quite pleased that somebody else is going to do the work. 

The performance’s great momentum is slightly dented when a struggle between two females for a male becomes a little too giggly. This is a pity because otherwise the play’s lively and well orchestrated direction by Liam O’Brien, pillared Athenian stage setting by Emma Fisher, and the performances along with David Irwin’s music and Myles Breen’s choreography synchronise in professionalism and great entertainment.
Breda Shannon is a freelance writer and contributor of book reviews to The Irish Examiner.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Women In Power by Kenneth McLeish, translated from Aristophanes’ 'Women in Assembly'

23-27 August, 2010

Produced by Limerick Youth Theatre
In Belltable offsite space at 36 Cecil Street, Limerick

Directed by Liam O’Brien

Set Design: Emma Fisher

Music/Composer: David Irwin

Choreography: Myles Breen

Costume Design: Fiona Ryan

Lighting Design: Liam Quinn

With: Michelle Fox, Kate Nunan, Lisa Ledger, Lauren O’Leary, Joanne O’Brien, Ellen Gough, Danielle Sheahan, Jamie Walters, Ross Bennett, Gerr Meaney and Darren O’Dea