A RAREFIED STAGE SPECTACLE
With ideas of balance and doubles combined with gritty immediacy, you have to love playwright Anne Carson’s new version of Bakkhai being given an alluring staging at the Stratford Festival.
Euripides’ electrifying tragedy is a struggle to the death between freedom and restraint, the rational and the irrational, man and god.
It’s raw, exacting, and illustrates with 2,500 year old plays still matter.
Director Jillian Kelley flirts with a cast of eight (plus an additional seven sultry multicultural gals fulfilling choir purposes) to carry the easy to follow storyline about Pentheus (Gordon S. Miller) banishing the wild, ritualistic worship of the god Dionysos (Mac Fyfe) only to have a stranger show up to persuade him to change his mind.
Playgoers can’t get enough of Mac Fye as the seductive, vengeful, sexually ambivalent god of pleasure in this teasing production that has a gory surprise for Lucy Peacock’s Agave.
Was Euripides celebrating or criticizing Greece’s faddish religious cults when he sat down to write this narrative? Hmmm…it’s really hard to tell.
Stratford’s latest reboot is similarly opaque in its take-home message, never quite overcoming the cultural remoteness of its source material. A rarefied stage spectacle nonetheless with superb performances all around and fantastic music to carry the show.
BAKKHAI by Euripides, adaption by Anne Carson May 24 – September 23, 2017 TOM PATTERSON THEATRE, Stratford, Ontario TICKETS $25.00 – $165.00 www.stratfordfestival.ca 1-800-567-1600 CAST Lucy Peacock, Mac Fyfe, Graham Abbey, Gordon S. Miller, Sarah Afful, Nigel Bennett, Jasmine Chen, Laura Condlln, Rosemary Dunsmore, Brad Hodder, André Morin, E.B. Smith, Quelemia Sparrow, Diana Tso, Bahia Watson DIRECTOR Jillian Keiley ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Charlotte Gowdy SET & COSTUMES Shawn Kerwin