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Classical Comedy Rocks Contemporary Morality

Monday June 20, 2005.

Classical Comedy Rocks Contemporary Morality

If "Bishop" Tamaki had lived in classical Greece he would undoubtedly have found the popular live entertainment scandalous. And being true to its original intent the Free Theatre's latest production THE FROGS, may have the association for community standards penning their outrage to broadsheet dailies.

Robin Bond believes his new translation of Aristophanes' brilliant satire THE FROGS retains the outrageous edge of the original, often lost in contemporary translations which sanitise much of the comedy for modest sensibilities.

"The Frogs is bawdy and farcical, but it's also laced with rich verbal wit and complex literary parody," says Bond who is also directing the production.

"The translation is as faithful as possible to the spirit of the Greek original in all its aspects and some might find some elements of the language and humour offensive," he adds.

The "Frogs" is acknowledged as Aristophanes' masterpiece. Written towards the end of the great war between Athens and Sparta and shortly before the Athenian defeat, it is at both an exercise in escapism and also a commentary on the importance accorded by the Athenians to the didactic function of the tragic and comic stage.

As well as including scenes of rollicking farce and knockabout humour the play explores the relationship between art and politics in the contest for the underworld throne of poetry between the two deceased tragic poets, Aeschylus and Euripides.

These two poets epitomise different generations, one, the earlier, dedicated to values traditional and essentially aristocratic, one equally dedicated to the close questioning of those values and their replacement by a fluid and sophistic system of situational ethics.

"Blending classic staging techniques with contemporary burlesque, the comedy is still relevant to day and will surely enthral a contemporary audience."

"Unfailingly amusing and entertaining it at the same time raises issues about art and morality that are as current today as they were in the fifth century BCE."

Aristophanes, Frogs, translated and directed by Robin Bond, a joint production of the Department of Classics of the University of Canterbury and the Free Theatre (Inc.) in the University Theatre (Arts' Centre) July 9-16 at 8.00 p.m. Tickets $15-00 or $10-00 for School Groups


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