Nottingham New Theatre have put their own modern twist on the classic Greek tragedy, The Bacchae, written by Euripides. Based on the Greek myth of King Pentheus and his mother Agave, this powerful and captivating performance is not one you’d want to miss. Beatrice Oladeji reviews.
This was my first encounter with a Greek tragedy as a production, and so naturally I anticipated peplos and sandals. Instead, I was surprised to see modern-day costuming, from blazers to Doc Martens, and so I became intrigued to watch how the cast would interpret the rest of the script.
particularly impressive was King Pentheus and his humorous and captivating outbursts
It was also refreshing seeing gender swapping within the roles, shifting the power dynamic amongst the actors. This captivating performance from the NNT managed to maintain the authenticity of the play’s storyline, despite all its modern twists.
I was immediately hooked by the powerful and gripping opening speech from Dionysus, which set the tone for the overall play, alongside various strongly-delivered monologues from other cast members. What was particularly impressive was King Pentheus and his humorous and captivating outbursts that sent me on an emotional rollercoaster, from laughter, to annoyance, then pity. The intense dialogue between Dionysus and Pentheus, littered with innuendos, was very amusing to watch, and added much needed comedic flair to such a tragic storyline.
the play was a very gripping piece, and was delivered cohesively
I was also shocked to see the depiction of a violent death so vividly. When Agave emerged from the wings with a blood-stained dress and crimson dripping right from her elbows to her fingers, I have to say it did take me by surprise. Her depiction of grief and madness in this scene was very convincing, and I felt myself becoming almost emotional at her sorrowful weeping.
Despite the small space and limited props, the simplistic staging was actually very befitting to the overall ambience of the performance, and the neon face paint along with the fluorescent paintings of Greek titan Atlas, served as a subtle yet effective reminder of the play’s origins.
The play was a brilliant introduction to NNT for myself, and the stronger actors onstage really did bring the performance to life. I didn’t feel as though the various sound effects such as the soundtracks of commotion really added to the play, and it possibly could have gone without being included.
I also felt as though the ending was very abrupt, and I was unprepared for the show to end where it did. Overall, the play was a very gripping piece, and was delivered cohesively which made it easier to follow, despite the complex storyline.
Featured image courtesy of The Nottingham New Theatre. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article image courtesy of @bacchae.nnt via @instagram.com. No changes were made to this image.
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