Ring showcases justice, love, revenge

An epic battle of the sexes is coming to a ring near you.

You don’t need a pay-per-view subscription to catch this match because it is happening on campus at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre. The ancient Greek play “Lysistrata” opens Wednesday and alternates with the modern comedy “Big Love” until Feb. 27. Both shows touch on timeless themes of justice, revenge and the ultimate power of love.

“Lysistrata” takes place in ancient Greece during the 21st year of its war with Sparta. Focused on fighting, the macho warriors declare no lovemaking until the war’s conclusion. In protest, the frustrated women barricade themselves in the Acropolis, motivating the men to quickly summon peace in favor of love.

“Big Love” is also based on Greek tradition but is set in the present day. Based on Aeschylus’ classic tragedy “The Suppliant Women,” 50 brides flee to Italy to escape their arranged marriages to 50 cousins. They are inevitably found by the deserted men, creating a comedic situation that unfolds with twists and turns.

“It won’t look like a show people have seen before,” said senior Heath Saunders, who stars in “Big Love.” “We are doing shows that aren’t done often in interesting ways.”

Director Jennifer Vallenga chose the play to draw a contrast not only between Greek drama and Greek comedy, but also ancient and modern theatrical pieces.

“It’s a good counterpart to see the comparison and similarities, but it also has Greek themes of justice, love and revenge,” Vallenga said.

Vallenga and the cast have worked hard to spin these themes in a surprising and shocking way.

“I think that we’ve tried to make some real contemporary twists on it and the way that we’ve done it,” Vallenga said. “There’s a lot of sex, lots of skin and athleticism that will appeal to students.”

“Big Love” tells the story of a younger generation, something Saunders hopes will help fill the seats with students. He is expecting theatergoers to leave the theater with different opinions.

“It’s an unusual show for people our age but I think that’s our target audience,” he said. “I think that both of these pieces will be hard to make sweeping judgments on because I think anyone will come to it and really love certain things and be really turned off by others.”

Cassie Glenn may be contacted at cglenn@themiamihurricane.com.