Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Bacchae




Event #6: The Bacchae


From voting for Greece in Eurobeat, I move to Euripedes' Greek tragicomedy The Bacchae (407BC) at the King's Theatre. There's another production going on as well as a Fringe event, but it isn't likely to have Alan Cumming being lowered by rope, arse akimbo, from the proscenium.

This is a new English-language production, with text by David Greig, and a sung chorus with music by Tim Sutton. Cumming is the new god Dionysos, returned to Thebes with his female followers. These ten women provide their choral dialog soulfully in the manner of The Gospel of Colonus*, where Sophocles' Theban plays were rendered as sermons, spoken or even sung in 3 parts, backed up by some of the most amazing vocal talent in the world of soul/gosepl music. I saw the Broadway production of that in 1987, and see that a 20th anniversary tour is underway. (*Or even the Disney animated film, Hercules).

The parallels with Eurobeat are there too. It's common for the Eurovision performers to start with a "traditional" lead-in, in both music and dress style, then go for the "reveal" as they move up tempo and rip off half their clothing. In Euripides play, Dionysos is shown initially as the youth hedonist, who eventually reveals, after much bloodshed and revenge on the family that scorned his human mother, "I knew the ending when I wrote/The script, but still - to see it -here/In front of me, played out for real/It's cruel."

It's an exciting production with an accessible text, although on this press preview night there were a few elements of dialogue and dance that didn't quite gel, as if insufficiently rehearsed. The short run is most likely sold out already, but I'm sure it will get picked up by other companies.


Final bows

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