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BAKKHAI at the Almeida

October 17, 2015

A new version by Anne Carson of the Greek tragedy BAKKHAI by Euripides at The Almeida was a play in two parts for me. The most interesting and insightful part is the story of the conflict between poles respresented by Human and God, played out brilliantly by Ben Wishaw as Dionysos and Bertie Carvel as his nemesis. Both actors bring a combination of masculinity and femininity to their performances which are transformative. Whilst either of these actors is on stage this play isgripping.

However, traditionally much of Greek tragedy is told by the chorus. Anne Carson has written a long series of chants which are performed by a chorus of ten women throughout the play. The play opens with the chorus chanting one poem, and then another, and another, and another. Unfortunately this pattern continues throughout the play making a less than two hour play seem like it is four hours long. I stopped listening to this group of women by half way through and by the end I positively hated them. This other part of the play swamped the exciting scenes with such monotonous dreary chanting that the overall experience was absolutely dreadful.

bakkhai

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