The Bacchae, Theatro Technis 02 March

**

This performance began with the brightly-dressed bacchants maenadising among the really quite lively crowd waiting to be let in, and then continued with dry ice, reasonably ecstatic dancing, and Dionysus entering as a rock god with an electric guitar.  Then it really didn’t go anywhere.  The new Ranjit Bolt translation into  bathetic rhyming couplets didn’t help and once it had made its initial impression the conceit of setting the play as in a music festival didn’t seem to be going anywhere either.  If we’re at a rock concert, then women running wild is just what you expect, not a horrifying inversion of the natural order of things, while authority undermined by a prinked and perfumed foreigner is also hardly shocking.  Which it should be.

I’m not sure that someone who didn’t already know the story would have been able to catch enough of the words to work out what was going on.  Some of the choruses where the chorus sang were actually quite effective, and the scene of Dionysus seducing Pentheus showed signs of promise.  But the thing seemed to plod along at an unvarying tempo–surely you want some kind of a slowing so that the audience can imagine with horror what will happen once Pentheus gets up Mount Cithaeron?  Or once Agave realises what she has done?

I’m afraid that what we got from Agave here was completely inadequate, as was the least impressive severed head I’ve ever seen.   It was also off-putting that Cadmus, grandfather of Pentheus,  was clearly even younger than the rest of the cast.  But I did think that given some more performances Jack Riddiford (Dionysus)  and Stuart Mortimer (Pentheus) might make something interesting of their roles.

This is really one for friends and family of the cast I think…See here for other Greek plays I know about in London.

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