Everyone loves a Greek Tragedy – the Ancient Greeks had an amazing way of telling stories, way beyond their time, with comedies, tragedies and so forth, elaborate and convoluted (in a good way!).
The Bacchae, by Euripides is nothing short of this. The story follows Dionysus, who carries out punishment on his Aunt and his cousin, after their continued disbelief in him being the son of Zeus. What entails is a story of deceit, blood and gore, and heartbreak.
Esmond Road Productions have modernised this – Dionysus and his cronies are dressed in neon festival-chic attire, reminiscent of 90’s ravers, notably taking pills and enjoying all life has to offer. His cousin, Pentheus, has taken a more middle class, and political approach, showing stubbornness and false maturity. These contrasting groups define the war zones and for whom each party is a part of. It is a clear distinction in characters and makes this modern take very interesting.
However, the beginning gets off to a great start – a very emotive Dionysus, who is engaging and with sultry tones to her voice, easy to fall into her storytelling. But this party-rave-drug taking group lack a little in this concept – a moment of them really raving to some techno, or a scene of debauched fun would have solidified this and made their characters a little less passing.
There is a brief lull midway, and at times feels as if this is the part that has a little less work. It’s a shame for this lull, mostly inhabited by normal conversation; it is understandable that this is part of the story but perhaps another take on this would make it more engaging.
It is soon picked up at the end, when we see the tragedy that Dionysus throws upon his cousin and her mother – there is genuine tears, emotion and this is where we are thoroughly engaged – we feel for the characters, we believe their pain and this moment to stop and take this in, pacing the speech and actions, creates a very emotive and thoughtful ending.
The Bacchae is a great idea with its modernisation, featuring some great talent starting the piece and following up at the end, but lacks somewhat in the middle. With this part worked on, this piece could be very engaging all the way through.