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Review - Lysa and the Freeborn Dames: A modern day battle of the sexes

Barbara Lowing, Hsiao-Ling Tang, Roxanne McDonald and Tania Vukicevic. Photo Dylan Evans Photography

Lysa and the Freeborn Dames

By Claire Christian Directed by Sanja Simic La Boite Theatre Company

Roundhouse Theatre

Kelvin Grove


Season: 21 July to 11 August. Bookings:

Taking a stand at La Boite Theatre Company, Lysa and the Freeborn Dames is a powerful and uniting piece of theatre - for women, by women.

Inspired by Aristophanes Lysistrata, this new contemporary work takes on some of biggest themes within the Greek comedy and refreshes them with a feminist twist. A modern day battle of the sexes, the story is carefully constructed with entertaining and emotional exchanges.

Lysa and the Freeborn Dames takes place in a small Australian town, on the eve of one of their biggest nights of the year – ‘the 98th War Weekender’. Main character, Lysa (Tania Vukicevic), returns from university determined to change the local culture, improve the treatment of women, and make a difference. Inspired by recent movements, Lysa stages a protest to disrupt the annual footy event – holding the town’s star player hostage until her demands are met.

The play cements itself as a show for today’s audiences. Taking current conversations about gender and equality, Lysa and the Freeborn Dames shines a spotlight on these issues to dissect them even further.

In an ever-evolving political culture, Claire Christian’s work explores legacy and change, and features a feisty undertone that makes a stand towards our current political landscape. As a script, the text is edgy and persuasive; and as a production, led by director Sanja Simic, it’s poignant and moving.

Actors filled the atmosphere of the Roundhouse Theatre and utilised the space to capture each audience member. The simplistic set stepped down into the centre of the stage and was supported by a kick-ass soundtrack and lots of pink. Sanja has dynamically navigated the theatre, with sharp transitions between now and then. The show was tight, polished and compelling from start to finish.

As the play’s leading protagonist, Lysa, Tania Vukicevic is full of raw emotion and delivers a fierce and captivating performance. She successfully rallies her troops, who all have big personalities, marked with their own individuality. Clementine Anderson as ex-lover Peta is powerfully passionate; Samantha Lush as tom-boy Myra is wonderfully lovable; and Tatum Mottin as beauty-queen Esme is a clever and a convincing contrast. As the only boy in this group and as the concerned Ken the Cop, Morgan Francis delivers an honest and sincere performance that has the backing of the audience.

On the outside of this circle, Hugh Parker is a perfect choice as Lysa’s Dad, Malcolm, and Jackson Bannister successfully pulls off a pit-bull and testosterone-filled, Grant, with bounds of energy.

Stealing the show however, are voices of hope in the Greek chorus – starring Barbara Lowing, Roxanne McDonald and Hsiao-Ling Tang. As narrators of the action, the women collectively share in Lysa’s struggles and share their own monologues that evoke similar emotion. The Chorus remind us of freedom of choice and effectively related the storyline to multiple generations.

Lysa and the Freeborn Dames has the power to inspire, influence and encourage a new generation. We are reminded that even though this story is set in one specific town, it can be adapted to any place, as the context is extremely relevant.

During the show, we rejoice at a woman’s strength to change the current culture and we are reminded that change is coming. Whether you agree with me or not, this is a show you should add to your ‘to-do’ list and support our future generations of women.

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