The Bacchae by Euripides
Annie Russell Theater, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL
Party god Dionysus blows into Thebes with his pack of wild girlfriends, fresh from spreading the word of his divinity throughout the ancient world. His old home town does not give him the reception he thinks he deserves. In revenge, he casts a spell on all the women of town, and they take to the hills in a fit of ecstatic dancing. This does not sit well with the king, Pentheus, who would like the women back and would this new guy get lost, please. Bad move, Pentheus. Everyone else thinks this guy is a god, and he pops off enough miracles (off stage, of course) to sell the audience. He even convinces the king to dress like a woman, and have a little voyeuristic look at the all-girl bash in the hills. Pentheus’ mom Agave is up there, which is just a tad embarrassing. Well, she mistakes him for a lion and rips him limb from limb in a fit of blood lust most often seen in Crivitz, Wisconsin the first day of deer season. Proud as punch that she, too, is a mighty huntress, she brings the trophy head to her dad Cadmus. Cadmus had a bad feeling all along about ignoring Dionysus. He gets Agave out of the trance, and is SHE embarrassed about her faux pas . Finally, Dionysus pops back in to say “See? I told you so. Now let’s see a little respect.”
The all-student cast put life and drama into this most ancient of plays. The Greek chorus writhes and wiggles in a modern interpretive dance rendition of the Dionysian ideal. Too bad their world beat drumming makes Ringo look good. Jason Anik’s Dionysus was suitably dark, handsome, and ambiguous, and the whole cast (except for some lost-looking guards) stayed in constant motion throughout the drama. Do not fear the Greeks. Do not fear their drama. Do not fear the Greek chorus.
There are good reasons this play has lasted the centuries. Respect the Gods, respect the Greeks, see the play. You all deserve it.