#23 Bacchae

Theatre ( Drama, Physical Theatre ) Surgeon's Hall

Dance and poetic dialogue and curious original music, in a faithful take on a famous tragedy by Euripides. Ensemble story, notably with the chorus in the midst of it all, about the disciples of Bacchus, and the one who refuses to believe Dionysus as the son of Zeus. An acclaimed play, but unknown to me.

Intensity, great emotion in the drama all the way through, with several strong performances. Scantily clad Bacchae in powerful dance routines, chanting, singing. Witness their rituals.

The play starts off a little slow, and suffers a bit from heavy-handed exposition in which all the characters are introduced. Strange music contributes to the atmosphere, which unfortunately remains rather flat and disengages. The set feels cheap without smoke, there is little immersion. At no point did I feel like I was standing at the foot of the mountains or in the court of the King of Thebes.

The lead roles of Penthus and Dionysus were strongly portrayed. The audience was told at the end that the two take turns in playing the parts. Great emotion on the final scenes from Agave, so far rather invisible. Brief visit from the elder seer Tiresias was some of the finest acting I saw all Fringe.

Despite the winning performances, the show lacked energy and feel. The old play is dialogue driven, for sure, but despite the acrobatic movements from the choir, the show felt fixed and static in the end. Too gently paced for a late night show.