“Liz Estrada” All I Am Saying Is Give War a Chance

By Ernest KearneyLysistrata, the 411 BCE “anti-war,” “feminist” play by ancient Greece’s, King of Comedy, Aristophanes has endured many, many efforts at adaptation over the centuries.

The recent re-workings are impressive by the extent of their diversity:

  • the 1955 Jeanne Crain, Bert Lahr musical western film The Second Greatest Sex,
  • a track on an album by Todd Rundgren’s band Utopia,
  • Spike Lee’s rap musical Chi-Rag,
  • a Mark Adamo opera,
  • a Valerie Schrag graphic-novel,
  • a ballet by Richard Mohaup and David Brin incorporated elements of the play in his post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi novella Cyclops

though those elements were missing from

  • Kevin Costner’s 80 million dollar cinematic train wreck version The Postman.

The appeal of Lysistrata whose titular heroine organizes the women of Athens and Sparta to deny the “fruit of their bodies” to their warrior husbands until they’ve negotiated an end to the disastrous Peloponnesian War is somewhat understandable in that it seems to press all the politically correct buttons which modern sensibilities would find appeasing

This despite the fact that the play mocks women as naturally emotional creatures possessing limited cognitive abilities and can hardly be regarded as a testament to pacifism since its denunciations are not against war but waging it with “staggering incompetence.”

Be that as it may, A Miles Beyond Entertainment and Archipelago Production has transformed Aristophanes’ bawdy, foul mouthed and crushingly contemporaneous play to fit within the constraints of an online Zoom presentation.

The result, Liz Estrada is full of talented individuals and fueled by ambition; alas the outcome is – in a word – regrettable. All the more so because beneath that assemblage of talent and ambition, the spark of intelligence does flicker in the adaptation by Steven Vlasak.

Vlasak has done some clever literary legerdemain in intertwining Aristophanes’ classical potty-mouth comedy with recognizable icons and terms for the internet audience.

For example, the Athenians, as shown in Aristophanes’ play, regarded the Spartans as loud mouthed, simple-minded buffoons. Vlasak finds his perfect match for the Spartans and the more dim-witted men of Athens by layering them in as the MAGA crowd who siphon what obtuse opinions they have from listening to the inanities spewed by a Rush Limbaugh talk radio clone (Jon Gormley).

Devyn Glenn (Kawata) as Liz Estrada is highly watchable due to her engaging personality and a striking countenance that seems as if it has been plucked off a bas-relief from classical antiquity.*

Artemis Snow and others have moments, but those moments are for naught.

The undoing of Liz Estrada, like most of the Zoom productions I’ve reviewed, begins in trying to refit theatrical works, the realm of the imagination, onto an ISP digital “stage” solely intended for video conferencing, the realm of little to no imagination.

However, the real problem with this effort is the direction of Miles Berman. The continuous presence of the multiple attendees that cascade on and off the screen seem devoid of any attempt at orchestration or balance. Add to this that the business conducted in the separate boxes while on screen is more often than not completely incomprehensible.

The consequence of non-stop scene stealing and lack of focus on a live stage would result in a debacle, it’s no different on a video screen.

Unfortunately, what there is in Liz Estrada that works is so lost beneath this total muddle that one can’t help thinking maybe war is just a victim of bad press.

* And any woman with a stripper pole in her living room immediately scores bonus points with me.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Send submission idea requests and comments to the Editor @:


Acceptance of the material is at the discretion of the editor.
Your readership and interaction with the website is what makes us possible and we thank you for your support.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter @theTvolution
Remember to Subscribel

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

No comments


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.