I like plays. I enjoy the theatre. I even enjoy "progressive" or "experimental" theatre. Two of the plays I've sincerely enjoyed were progressive adaptations of Nathan der Weise and The Magic Flute. The Egyptian temple in the latter was constructed out of giant light sabers and supported by ninja jackals. I loved it.
I hated this production. I hated almost everything about it. Almost. I thought the banners hanging all over with 酒神 were pretty cool. When I first saw them, I thought, "Okay, Bacchus is supposed to have an Asian mother, but not that kind of an Asian mother, but whatever. I'll roll with it. It's a nice touch.
That's what I liked.
I hated the costumes. The Chorus was dressed in dominatrix-goth-stripper attire and spent most of their time pole dancing. No one enjoyed the pole dancing as much as they did, that I can promise you. I can also promise you that you will not enjoy it.
I hated the music. They tried to turn it into a rock opera/classical drama, but they failed. The music in no way complemented or even matched the text. You see kids, in opera or musical theatre, the composer, who typically knows what he's doing, composes a score that brings out the essence of the text. Despite what you may think, it's not just about being loud. Ugh. The music was just lame. It was so forgettable.
I understand the attempt to be original. People have been performing this play for what, like 2,500 years? But here's a secret of the art: a good production is still better than a bad one, even if the bad one is "different" and the good one is not.
Now let's talk about the acting itself. It was exceptionally poor. None of the actors seemed to know if they were in a farce or tragedy. It was bad. It made the attempts at humor tedious and the climax of the play inconsequential. So much of the motivation behind the characters, the irony of Pentheus' destruction and simply the tragedy of the play were lost to stupid insertions of cell phones and jokes about texting. We got it. Dionysus was like a young rock star. Wow. And most of the players, especially Agaue, had the same intensity and volume in their voice for every single line. Agaue screamed everything. That's not acting. It's screaming. Her lines about killing the lion and killing her son sounded identical. And no one's lines sounded their own. It all sounded forced and unnatural. I think the accents played a critical role in that problem. The Jersey accents attempted by the Servant and First Messenger failed epically, as did the pseudo British/American accents most of the actors attempted.
And what was up with Dionysus thrusting his tongue into everyone's mouth? Larry West, the director, lacks that filter which tells its owner whether an idea is good or bad. He just does any old thing that pops in his head.
And then aside from all the interpretation and artistic direction, it was just a shoddy, sloppy performance. The mics kept going out, players couldn't remember their lines, no one stayed on pitch, etc. It was a catastrophically, cosmically and consummately poor performance.
But you know what? The performers seemed like they had a good time. Going back to how the pole dancer enjoyed the pole dance more than anyone in the audience, I'd like to apply that to the play as a whole. It kind of felt like I was intruding on their really good time with themselves all dressed up in studded black leather. But the audience should never feel guilty of voyeurism.