The Bacchae

You may think you’ve seen The Bacchae – but have you seen Dionysius wreaking havoc upon his namesake play in an attempt to modernise it? This is the premise of Mermaids: The University of St Andrews Performing Arts Fund’s performance of this iconic Euripides play.

A beautiful show, sparse but full of energy, expertly choreographed and slick.

The cast of The Bacchae is nothing short of outstanding. They play and dance in a fusion of modern music and physical performance, and the entire University of St Andrews company performs commendably. Most notable is the lead, the female Dionysius, played by Phoebe Soulon. Soulon utterly inhabits the role in every facet of her being, effortlessly intertwining mocking seduction, gleefullness, and ferocity as ‘Phoebe as Dionysius,’ both being the God and carrying his torch in a forceful takeover of the play as it is brought to the modern era. Playing against her is Toby Poole as Pentheus, who despite a few faltering moments, counters the God with impressive chemistry and artfully switches his accent depending on whether in the classical realm or the modern one, faster and faster as the lines between the two are blurred.

The struggle of The Bacchae is, unfortunately, the premise upon which this interpretation is built. Can elements of madness be found in modern political situations? Absolutely. But doing little beyond dropping the words ‘Trump’ and ‘Brexit’ a couple of times isn’t enough to tie the concepts together.

The production blends Euripedes' Dionysian madness with the names that march across our newspaper headlines today. It positions the popular instinct of voting as a kind of Dionysian expression, and asks: are those who voted giving into a dangerous kind of expression? The actors and production team of The Bacchae undoubtedly have a firm idea of what is meant to be the moral, but it gets lost in translation, to the detriment of the entire piece.

The Bacchae is a beautiful show, sparse but full of energy, expertly choreographed and slick. And if you don’t think about it too hard, it can be both an aesthetically pleasing and entertaining way to revisit the 2,400 year old play.

Reviews by Ali Schultz

Pleasance Courtyard

The Burning

★★★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

The Bacchae

★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

The Swell Mob

★★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Dracula

★★★
St Andrews Town Hall

The Strange Undoing of Prudence Hart

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

'A triumphant attempt to turn the 2400 year old classic drama by Euripides into a funny, politically relevant piece of theatre that appeals to, and engages, a modern audience' (St.Art Magazine). When the king of Thebes refuses to recognise Dionysus, the god goes to the city to punish him. Or at least this should be the plot, if the theatre company weren't arguing over how to stage The Bacchae on the night of the premiere. A modern metatheatrical take on a Greek tragedy including devised, physical and dance elements.

Most Popular See More

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets