Revenge and Sorrow in Thebes

The House of Cadmus is a mess. Few believe that Dionysus is Zeus’s son, so the spurned god of pleasure sows seeds of revolution throughout the ill-governed city of Thebes, sending its women into a sensual frenzy on a nearby hilltop. Among the women is Agave, the mother of current king Pentheus. Her appetites, once unleashed by nephew Dionysus, prove terrifying. This premiere of poet Persephone Vandegrift’s adaptation of Euripides’ The Bacchae delivers absorbing, deeply human archetypal drama on a shoestring, in language that is elevated, timeless, and comprehensible. Resourceful directing transforms the small performance area into a terrain of psychic battle between the fundamentalist tyranny of the ego and the perils of pure sensual abandon. Matthew Riggins’ Dionysus embodies full-lipped, soft-bodied, irresistible carnality, while Tom Dewey’s Pentheus menaces his subjects with purse-lipped prudery—an uptight thug. Our proxies Agave and blind seer Tiresias ping-pong between them. The large cast includes a range of ability, but they own their roles and the majority manage some form of meaningful connection. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Fri., July 24, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 25, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 26, 2 p.m., 2009

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