“Keep it up, Sisyphus” at Dionysia: Battle of the Theatre Societies, by Jenna Hornsby

21Photos by Natasha Anstey.
No play is complete without an obnoxious weirdo in the front row who laughs really loudly at everything that could be remotely construed as a joke. Thursday night’s production of Keep it Up, Sisyphus, as part of Bedlam’s Dionysia theatre contest, was no exception to this rule.

Full disclosure: I am a former pageant child-turned-musical-star who fell from grace at a young age. I have been in more crappy community productions of the Wizard of Oz than is respectable. In high school, the beret-wearing Theatre types bullied me with their existential stares, and as a result I have always been intimidated by actual, proper theatre (you know, the kind with no dancing). 

But I think I may have actually gotten this one! Set in Northern France during World War II, the story is the Greek myth of Sisyphus spun into a comedy, with a healthy dose of the absurd. I had to google most of the cultural references because I’m a helpless foreigner, but I still really enjoyed myself! It reminded me a bit of Inglourious Basterds, except instead of having any clear story arc, there was a hilariously irrelevant and absurd Greek Chorus, who was inadvertently the star of the show.
In addition to the standout Greek Chorus, Henrik the jolly SS Officer did a fantastic job, and clearly knows how to get the laughs with just a well-timed glance or giggle. There were some ambitious and respectable communism puns: “She wanted to get married, but I kept Stalin”, “Did you find that class to be a struggle?” which really is all I need to be entertained. The show even included a strange planted-audience-member gag, which I think would have been funnier to me if I was familiar with British comedy.

Overall, it was a great show, and I’m glad I didn’t let my childhood failure keep me from giving it a shot. I give it top Marx!


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