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1996- Lysistrata

We returned to Queen’s Park in 1996 with an adaption of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata.





Brighton and Hove Leader

One of Brighton Festival’s most popular shows is being staged outdoors in the beautiful surroundings of Lewes Castle and the Royal Spa at Queen’s Park. 

Bring friends and a picnic and enjoy the colourful Greek comedy of politics, war and sex, performed by Brighton”s acclaimed Re:action Theatre.

The anti-war message features some poignant first-hand accounts from survivors of recent conflicts such as the Vietnam was, Bosnia and Somalia.


Evening Argus

No sex please we’re on strike!

It’s a cry that will be ringing around town to herald the return of Re:action theatre company to this year’s Brighton Festival.

The company, known for its popular open-air Shakespeare in the Park productions in years past, dropped out of the picture due to chronic underfunding, despite the huge popularity of its productions.

Now the company is making a comeback with an innovative spin on an ancient classic, Lysistrata.

The play with the tongue-twisted title first made an appearance in ancient Greece, where its author Aristophanes, had ’em rolling in the aisles with his tale of a sex strike by the women of ancient Greece to stop the war between Athens and Sparta.

The piece is brought up to date with an Ealing comedy-inspired adaption by Peter McGarry, that introduces themes of passive resistance and sexual politics in between the hoped-for belly laughs.

To add to the jollity, Lysistrata is presented as a "Lark in the Park" set within a feast of park-based Grecian-style frolics that will include street performers, a philosophers’ corner and strolling soothsayers.  And in the spirit of community theatre, the audience will be encouraged to dress up and act as the Greek chorus.

In addition, Re:action is hoping to harness a groundswell of public support to ensure that the tradition of an accessible production that involves the  community, established so successfully a few years ago, might continue and be improved.

To date, neither Brighton Council , any of the arts boards nor the festival itself have come up with cash for the venture, whereas Lewes District Council has supported Re:action to the tune of £2500 over the three years.

The park productions are seen by supporters as a valuable contribution to the festival scene as they involve professional and non professional performers and encourage a local audience- a useful acheivement for a festival often accused of exhibiting elitism.


Evening Argus, Wednesday 29th May 1996

With virtually every other open air event being cancelled, or at least disrupted because of the atrocious weather, only 30 brave fools turned out for one of the performances of Aristophanes’ satire Lysistrata.

Sadly for those too faint hearted to sit out on the grass or Lewes Castle, they missed a treat.  In fact not only did the setting provide a wonderful backdrop for Greek drama, the weather increased the dramatic effect with the wind blowing and storm clouds hovering.

Thankfully, the rain held off . . . Just.

Lysistrata, written about 2500 years ago must be the first ever feminist play.  Ironically, it was written by a man.  The storyline is simple, but so effective and funny, as many simple ideas are.

The women of Athens and Sparta are fed up with their men fighting the lengthy and fruitless Peloponnesian War and go on a sex strike, led by a prototype Germaine Greer, Lysistrata,

Unfortunately, the no nookie ban is as hard to maintain for the women as the men.  The crude humour shows that prudity is a latter day hang-up.

But the women do hold out leading to desperate action by the men who have Lysistrata arrested and found guilty for treason.  But when she begs to consult the Oracle it warns of the horrors of future wars and the people of Greece let her go.

A brilliant performance by the Brighton- based Re:action theatre company, which can still be caught until Saturday.

Steve Gladwin.


Date Venue Audience
May 15-19 Royal Spa, Queen”s Park 600
May 21- 26 Lewes Castle 800

Cast and Crew    
Neil Manuell Robin Manuell Clare Tilyard
Simon Gamewell Richard Ryan Lucy Copping
Michelle Hockey Mike Herbert John Boath
Kris Steffes Kirsty Martin Tamsin Yeald
Hannah Burchill Alison Faulkner Nyall Thompson
Una Nicholson Daniel Price Kirstie Maginn
Adam Crisp Ralph Izzard Tristram Puppy
Millie Steve Mitchel Jo Neary
Amanda O”Neill Shehab Salim Margaret Jackman
Peter McGarry Jenny Martin Penni Wood
Mandi Vallero