Michael Fenlason is not what he seems.
The artistic director of Beowulf Alley Theatre appears to be quiet, a bit shy, reticent.
Then he goes and writes something like his adaptation of Aristophanes' "Lysistrata" and blows those assumptions right out the stage doors.
Now granted, "Lysistrata" is a comedy. Farcical, even. But we doubt ol' Aristophanes would recognize this irreverent, anachronistic, over-the-top silly rendition of the thousands-year-old play.
But he might get a kick out of it. We sure did.
How could you not? The women decide to withhold sex but continue to tease - the tension will build and the men will agree to end the war is the reasoning.
Director Nicole Scott placed the play in ancient Greece (or maybe Fenlason did that). The women are in flowing togas, but throw them aside to reveal Frederick's of Hollywood-esque undergarments used to make the no-sex rule so much harder on men.
One of the women, Myrrine, is played by Andrew Baughman, a man with a very hairy chest. His husband, Kinesias, is portrayed by Lily Delamere, a most delicate looking beauty.
Bree Boyd's Kalonike starts her husband's fire by stripping down to a corset and a jingly belly-dancer belt and dancing to "Gangnam Style."
At one point someone talks about making "hot monkey love."
Bad puns about sex slid in and out of the dialogue.
Oh, the horror, the horror.
Fenlason stripped down (sorry) the play to its bare essentials (sorry again), eliminating aspects of the story that might have made it drag (oh, sorry, sorry, sorry). What he ended up with was a 90-minute, two-act play that concentrated on the women's oath to withhold sex and its consequences on the men. Not much nuance, so little side story.
It was a bit-too-long "Saturday Night Live"-ish sketch, funny and naughty. And nice. We laughed. We couldn't help it. Even the intentionally shaky acting by the cast members seemed designed to underscore the lighthearted approach to the play.
See for yourself. And if you happen to spy that unassuming Fenlason hanging around the ticket booth, don't be fooled. He's not as harmless as he looks.
If you go
• What: Beowulf Alley Theatre's production of "Lysistrata."
• By: Aristophanes, adapted by Michael Fenlason.
• Director: Nicole Scott.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through March 24.
• Where: Beowulf Alley, 11 S. Sixth Ave.
• Cost: $20, with discounts available.
• Reservations, information: beowulfalley.org or 882-0555.
• Run time: 1 hour, 45 minutes, with one intermission.