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‘Lysistrata’ Review – equality in medicine

Rees Jenkins, Wilf Walsworth, Adelaide Banks and Ryan Stevens in Lysistrata, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre. Photo by Harry Elletson. The image has been cropped and compressed.

Roar writer Yunduo Zhang reviews “Lysistrata” at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, a modern adaptation criticising the current underfunded NHS system.

The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s adaptation of “Lysistrata”, written by Sophie Ellerby and directed by Diyan Zora, is a comedy about an NHS strike. This production is a part of Lyric Hammersmith’s Springboard programme, which intends to inspire under-represented performers to get involved in the theatre industry. I had the pleasure of seeing one of its few performances from 8 to 10 September 2022.

The original “Lysistrata” was an Ancient Greek comedy, preaching that women as a group can unite the Greeks and achieve peace. Today, Diyan Zora’s “Lysistrata” draws on the style and ethos of Aristophanes’ protagonists. In the past, Lysistrata fought for peace; now, she fights for equal treatment.

This adaptation is about a medical student who wants to save the NHS system. After working many extra part-time jobs to make a living, she decides to stage a sit-in at the STI clinic. Through this protest, Lysistrata seeks to examine and criticise the injustices delivered by the privileged.

Ryan Stevens, Rees Jenkins, Romario Williams, Wilf Walsworth, and Kane Feagan in Lysistrata. Photo by Harry Elletson. The image has been cropped and compressed.

Imagine what society would be like if the NHS stopped seeing patients, as is depicted in the drama. If the NHS became overloaded, faced poor treatment, and saw reduced medical bursaries, would more students get involved in the medical profession in the future?

The Daily Mail has reported that the number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 has continued to set new records since the pandemic began, with intensive care units in many areas, such as London, reaching 114% occupancy, far exceeding maximum capacity and leaving doctors exhausted.

Georgia-Rose Oliver, Wilf Walsworth, Romario Williams, Kane Feagan and Adelaide Banks in Lysistrata. Photo by Harry Elletson. The image has been cropped and compressed.

Diyan Zora’s direction was fast-paced, and the audience was attentive, not wanting to miss a single part of it. Syphilis, foot fetishes, and strip poker are used to heighten the show’s comedy and liven up the scene. The play shows doctors drinking champagne together and abusing prescription drugs in their rebellion against government exploitation.

The plot takes a huge turn when a significant figure appears in the emergency room – his presence brought Lysistrata and the other students an opportunity to bring about real political change. This character is set to do the opposite, to the audience’s delight. At first, he is turned away like any other patient, and then by chance, it is discovered that the patient is the son of the Prime Minister. Given such a great opportunity, the students use their wisdom and individual characteristics to successfully gain the attention and support of the Prime Minister for the medical field.

Adelaide Banks, Kane Feagan, Sam Purkis, James Douglas-Quarcoopome and Wilf Walsworth in Lysistrata. Photo by Harry Elletson. The image has been cropped and compressed.

This production is brilliantly produced, from the cast to the lighting, staging and sound. The Springboard programme under Lyric Hammersmith is an admirable project that gives young people a chance to follow their theatrical dreams and allows these actors to appear in the public eye.

“Lysistrata” played at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre until 10 September.

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