Pentheus has banned the wild, ritualistic worship of the god Dionysos. A stranger arrives to persuade him to change his mind. Euripides’ electrifying tragedy is a struggle to the death between freedom and restraint, the rational and the irrational, man and god. Using three actors and a chorus, echoing the original performance model, James Macdonald returns to the Almeida to stage Euripides’ hedonistic tragedy in a visceral new version by Anne Carson. Ben Whishaw makes his Almeida debut as Dionysos.
'This is the real Greek, bloody-fantastical thing... a mostly faithful translation rather than a “new version” by Anne Carson blending irony with pure poetry... this production puts no single foot wrong in dance, delirium or idyll: it’s the complete experience, and though it’s so potent at such close quarters, its operatic dimension should make it a visitor to the Proms’ vast Albert Hall amphitheatre next season. In the meantime, I want a copy of Carson’s text... now available in a publication from Oberon - since it's far too rich to absorb on a single hearing.' The Arts Desk ★★★★★
'This second drama in the Almeida’s vital Greek season is not a revolutionary re-ordering... It does, though, cleverly refocus the play. Anne Carson, the superb Canadian poet who has provided a fine translation, is a classicist. No one is likely to quarrel with her interpretation. And no one could dispute the suppleness of her verse, which moves from teasing demotic bathos... to tumbling lyric waterfalls and an extraordinary, jazz-like swing for the Chorus. When you look at the lines on the page, squeezing and fanning out, you can almost hear the pulse.' Susannah Clapp, Guardian