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UC Davis Spins Greek Tragedy The Bacchae

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The UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance is performing “The Bacchae,” a Greek tragedy written by Euripides before 480 B.C., translated by Derek Mahon and directed by Barry McGovern. The production runs Nov. 29-Dec. 8, 2012.

The play has three major elements, performed in a present-day motif. The first element is a rock star god, Dionysus, who represents fun, sex and recklessness. The second element is his “band of women who when provoked, go wild and savage with super human powers and just as suddenly calm down again,” writes director Barry McGovern. And the third element is the conservative king, Pentheus, who longs for order but is enthralled by the mischievousness of the Bacchae.

This is a classic tale of good and evil, conservative mannerisms versus liberal debaucheries, told in a modern-day tone and language, thank god. The dialogue was easy to understand and the plot was amusing, as we followed the rock star protagonist, Dionysus, as he desires to be worshiped and praised. At the same time, we watched the conservative king, Pentheus, whose blasphemy of Dionysus is hypocritical and the center of conflict in this play.

The audience mused as Dionysus and his band of cheerleaders, the Bacchae, doled out penalties and vigilance throughout the play. The casting and acting were performed to character; believable and mesmerizing, while holding true to the nature of a Greek tragedy. Mahon and McGovern’s modern spin on the Bacchae made this play fun, exciting and entertaining.

The set also enchanted the audience with its sheer size. The cheerleaders rocked the audience from two stories, and a trapdoor in the middle of the stage, piped with steam, served as a dramatic ingress and egress for our devilish rock star lead.

Bryanna Maty, 22, a senior communication major at UC Davis who attended the play, said, “I liked how the play catered to the modern age of the audience … like using the cheerleaders and the rock star.”

You can find more information on the Web at theatredance.ucdavis.edu. Tickets are on sale from $12 to $19. Performances are at the UC Davis campus’ Main Theatre, Wright Hall, behind the Mondavi Center.

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