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Shakespeare & Originals will present the regional premiere of Loose Lips Sink Ships, a timely new screwball comedy by Dog & Pony Show founder and PEEP impresario Lissa Brennan, April 10-26 in Manbites Dog Theater in Durham, NC. Based on Aristophanes' ancient Greek anti-war play Lysistrata and set in Gotham City during World War II, Loose Lips Sink Ships owes as much to the 1940s screwball comedies of Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges as its does to Aristophanes, says director Derrick Ivey.
"The energy is high," claims Ivey. "The pace is quick. And it's a lot of fun."
He adds, "I first read the script early last fall. There was a workshop production in Pittsburgh last summer, but I had nothing at all to do with it."
The Pittsburgh presentation, produced by Dog & Pony Show, earned favorable reviews and was mentioned in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Year-in-Review section. A portion of Loose Lips Sink Ships was read recently, in the Triangle, as part of The Lysistrata Project of worldwide play readings for peace.
"The play is very cleverly written in verse," Ivey explains. "It's also very funny."
In Lysistrata, the uppity women of ancient Athens defiantly withhold sex and barricade themselves inside the Acropolis to force their men to stop the Peloponnesian War against Sparta. The heroines of Loose Lips Sink Ships choose a similar strategy.
"Margaret (Lissa Brennan) wants to stop the war (WWII)," says Derrick Ivey, "so she's hatched a scheme in which she enlists women to refuse to have sex with their military men until the fighting stops. Harry (Jay O'Berski), a newspaperman, hears of the plan and takes the men's side. The feathers begin to fly when Margaret and Harry meet to battle it out and prove to be old lovers still carrying the torch for each other.
"The other couples involved are Sonny (Jeffrey Scott Detwiler) and Myrtle (Meredith Sause), Roxie (Hope Hynes) and Spike (David Klionsky), and Wysteria (Flynt Burton) and Beau (Lucius Robinson)," Ivey says. "Each of the women in these couples faces the challenge of first defining and then withholding the one thing which pleases her man the most."
The cast also includes Sherylin K and Lance Waycaster. Besides director Derrick Ivey, the production staff for Loose Lips Sink Ships includes set designer Sonya Drum and sound designer Mac Dorton.
"We have a basic multi-level set," says Ivey, "with some beautiful reproductions of WWII images painted by Sonya Drum."
Ivey adds, "The biggest challenge in staging Loose Lips is probably the melding of the verse in the script with the 1940s screwball comedy style of the entire piece. The two are actually a perfect fit; it can just take a second or two to make that startling discovery."
Shakespeare & Originals presents Loose Lips Sink Ships Thursday-Saturday, April 10-12, 17-19, and 24-26, at 8:15 p.m. and Sunday, April 13, and 20, at 3:15 p.m. at Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina. $15 Friday-Sunday, $10 Thursday, except pay-what-you-like performance April 10 ($5 minimum). 919/682-3343. http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/2/ or http://www.newfrequency.org/lips.htm.