The Gentle, Jealous God: Reading Euripides' Bacchae
Greatness is the secular name for Divinity," Shaw declared in The Revolutionist's Handbook appended to Man and Superman (57); Albert takes the sentiment quite literally in his explorations of the connections between Major Barbara and The Bacchae
, reading Undershaft as a secularized Dionysian figure.
This new work takes as its inspiration the classic story of The Bacchae
and re-invents it as visually arresting and compelling aerial theatre.
At its worst the style is hardly distinguishable from Aristophanes' parody of it in his comedy Frogs, but where frenzied emotion is appropriate, as in the tragedy Bacchae
, Euripides' songs are unsurpassed in their power and beauty.
And, to revert to textual matters, let's take poor old Pentheus in Bacchae
1) The primary purpose of the present discussion is to draw attention to the profound importance of tragedy, particularly of Euripides' Bacchae
, to the Carrhae narrative in Plutarch's Crassus.
Their topics include gods wise and foolish: Euripides and Greek literature from Homer to Plutarch, wisdom through experience: Theseus and Adrastus in Euripides' Suppliant Women, the Delphic school of government: Apollonian wisdom and Athenian folly in Euripides' Ion, the language of wisdom in Sophocles' Philoktetes and Euripides' Bacchae
, and the leopard-skin of Heracles: traditional wisdom and untraditional madness in a Ghanaian Alcestis.
Loosely inspired by Euripides' The Bacchae
, it's described by its creators - Ben Lewis and Dafydd James - as "The Vicar of Dibley meets The Wicker Man", which is enough to spark puzzlement.
It is a strong, inclusive model, allowing the poet of Bacchae
and Medea to write plays like Helen, Rhesus, and Cyclops, which many of Walton's book-length predecessors were unable to do.
Some purists, it should be said, yearned for more gravitas in "The Bacchae
," starring Alan Cumming, while others reveled in the cheeky theatricality of John Tiffany's production for the National Theater of Scotland.
Highlights include Alan Cumming in The Bacchae
and three very different interpretations
THEATRE: The Bacchae
by Sophocles gets an entirely new treatment in this new production by Kneehigh Theatre directed by Emma Rice.