By Andrew Andrews
There are certain things we’ve come to expect when we head to the Flea Theater for a production from their resident company, The Bats. Firstly, we expect a high-paced performance from a talented, energetic troupe of actors. Secondly, we expect a creative approach to live theater, from the moment the curtain rises (figuratively, since there is no actual curtain in either the Sam or Siggy theaters) until the lights go out at the end of the show (literally—I mean, how could there even be a show without any lights?). Thirdly, we expect a story that speaks to the issues of today—even if it’s a story that originated over 2,400 years ago. And if the show also happens to be a musical, we expect everything from the plot to the choreography to prove just how multi-talented The Bats can be.
Case in point: The Q Brothers Collective’s Ms. Estrada re-imagines Aristophanes’ classical Greek comedy Lysistrata through the story of a freshman Womyns Studies major, Elizabeth “Liz” Estrada (Malena Pennycook). Distraught that the young men she’s encountered at Acropolis University have chosen to shun higher learning in preparation for the upcoming alcohol-fueled “Greek Games,” Estrada sets out on a mission to put an end the testosterone fest by convincing her roommates (Caturah Brown, Pearl Shin and Madeline Mahoney) to withhold intercourse from their boyfriends until they surrender. But more to this centuries-old tale of the power struggle between the sexes has been updated beyond the title and the setting: the four Q Brothers (GQ, JQ, Jackson Doran & Postell Pringle) extend Liz’s cause to include womxn’s (yes, that’s with an X) issues, non-white, non-binary gender identity and even the bad rap that Millennials get for their “dopamine-fueled lives,” as critiqued by Liz’s professor, Ms. Spencer (Jenna Krasowski): “Your generation only sees what’s in front of you.”
Keep in mind, however, that this production is a hip hop musical, and with song lyrics that include “every problem is a penis or a prick that you can kick,” and an orgy of a finale full of “sex in your face,” the moral of the story is more along the lines of song by Meghan Trainor than a speech by Emmeline Pankhurst. And, perhaps because it was written by four mostly-white, mostly-straight dudes, a lot of the rapping sounds more along the lines of the 1980’s Dragnet theme than the classic hip hop music spun by DJ Marguerite Frarey before the show. But don’t let any of that fool you into thinking that this production isn’t worth your time, because The Bats, as I’ve mentioned, are one talented group of actors and the direction (Michelle Tattebaum) and choreography (Rokafella) are spot-on. So check it out, then come back here and tell us what you think of the Q Brothers Collective’s take on “womxnism.” Whether you agree it was a fun show or feel that the gender roles in Lysistrata are too archaic for our time, your reviews help others decide whether they should attend, and your ratings help us help you find future classical reinventions you’re sure to love!3
Andrew Andrews attended Ms. Estrada at Flea Theatre in Manhattan on Saturday, March 31, 2018 @ 7:00pm to write this review.