Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Tuesday, 13 October 2015
The Bacchae, 14 Oct 2015
Conceived by Adena Jacobs & Aaron Orzech, adapted
from Euripides By St. Martins & Fraught Outfit; Melbourne Festival
TheatreWorks, until 23 Oct 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **
Full review also published in Herald Sun online, Fri 16 Oct, then be in print at a later date. KH
The Bacchae ensemble; pic by Pia Johnson
you are expecting to see Euripides’ The Bacchae think again, because this
production has more in common with a Little Mix concert than Greek tragedy.
Adena Jacobs, uses (and I mean uses) nineteen girls in their mid-teens and one
younger boy in this ill-conceived, impenetrable exploration and deconstruction of
– well, something Euripides did not write.
Bacchae suffers irrevocably from focusing on style and form over content and is
pretentious rather than audacious.
let me say that Kelly Ryall’s music, performed throughout by a pianist, string
trio and percussionist, with harmonies by a few girls, is evocative albeit
a dimly-lit, far upstage depiction of the birth of Dionysus from the thigh of Zeus,
one girl steps forward to ramble about her morning ritual of dressing and eating
vegemite toast, then rather earnestly says, ‘I am the god, Dionysus, son of
Zeus. If you do not believe me, I will punish you.’
other banal, poorly staged scenes, the girls lounge around, check their phones,
nibble snacks or stare at the audience with little apparent understanding of
the purpose of their gaze.
cast performs with an unsatisfying blend of the provocative and the uncomfortable,
presenting a series of vignettes that look like soft-core pornography.
girls are stripped to bikinis – one to only her knickers – their faces are masked
and their adolescent bodies are slicked with oil as they writhe and cavort,
wave strap-on phalluses, simulate sex, thrash their hair and one even bleeds
gold paint from her crotch.
her exploration of the Maenads, those wild, violent, demented female followers
of Dionysus, Jacobs could have learned much about such convulsive, trance-like
states from Okwui Okpokwasili in Bronx Gothic, a Melbourne Festival show from
ritualistic scenes in The Bacchae are probably intended to feel dangerous,
edgy, confronting and impassioned but they end up looking overwrought, tame and
fault, of course, is not with the cast of teens but with the directorand her collaborator (or should we say
co-conspirator?), Aaron Orzech, who are the adults in the rehearsal room asking
young women to perform such cryptic, incomprehensible material.
production smacks of exploitation and does not in any way illuminate the issues
it so boldly pronounces in its Media Release.
the age-appropriateness of the piece and ask, ‘Is this good theatre?’ The
answer is a resounding, ‘No!’
the way, it is recommended as suitable for audiences 16+.