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A CurtainUp Review

A Very Naughty Greek Play
By Jenny Sandman

 Naked Lady and Robert Richmond
Naked Lady and Robert Richmond
(Photo: Richard Termine)
A Very Naughty Greek Play is a very silly Greek play. It has a few genuinely funny moments, but not nearly enough to support the rest of the bombast and idiocy.

It's a wildly uneven adaptation of Aristophanes' The Wasps. The original version satirized the Athenians' litigious society. While there are obvious parallels to modern society, this adaptation has only the barest scraping of plot. Most of Aristophanes' classic has been abandoned in favor of outright farce.

Of course, Aristophanes was no stranger to farce; in fact, he was rather like the South Park of ancient Greece, with plenty of jokes about sex and flatulence. But his jokes were interlaced with surprising political acuity and insight. A Very Naughty Greek Play has all the jokes about sex and flatulence, but none of the acumen. And apparently no one's told the cast that kazoosjust aren't funny.

Robert Richmond plays Kokkos, a power-drunk old judge. He champions a simplistic moralism, which is ripe for George Bush jokes (and indeed, there are plenty). His son, Huakinthos (Richard Willis) is appalled. He tries to get his father to retire by telling him that the rich politicians have made him their pawn, that he actually has no real power at all. Kokkos doesn't buy it, and so Huakinthos tries to introduce him to the good life instead. When this fails to disguise his father's inherent crudity, he attempts to establish a law court at home. The only verdict rendered is against the neighbor's dog, who has been convicted of fornication.

With so little story this is mainly a collection of gags that are strung together and in most instances involve extended bouts of audience participation. This can be tedious at best (for those of us watching) and terrorizing at worst (for those unlucky enough to sit in the front rows). Quite a lot of this stuff involves water guns and humiliation.

The cast is energetic but needs a strong directorial hand to rein them in. as it is the gags and stunts get predictable in a hurry, and with almost no sense of the original play remaining, the jokes are as pointless as they are excessive. To be sure, this is an energetic bunch but none of them can really sing. Alex Webb is the most charismatic of the four performers. Unfortunately he's the one with the water gun.

It's a shame, too; Aristophanes is underrated as a political satirist, and much of his work has direct parallels to current political situations. It's a shame that A Very Naughty Greek Play has so little Aristophanes and current events and such an abundance of silliness, and bad jokes.

Based on The Wasps by Aristophanes
Translated by P.W. Meineck
Conceived and created by Lisa Carter, Anthony Cochrane, Peter Meineck, Robert Richmond, Desiree Sanchez, Alex Webb and Richard Willis
With Anthony Cochrane, Robert Richmond, Alex Webb, and Richard Willis
Music by Anthony Cochrane
Running time: One hour and thirty minutes with no intermission
Aquila Theatre Company, Baruch Performing Arts Center, 25th Street (Lexington/ Third Avenues). 212-239-6200.
Wednesdays through Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays and 5 and 9 pm, Sundays at 3 pm.
Tickets $45 and $25.
02/25/05 through 03/20/05
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on March 3rd performance
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