DIONYSUS IN 2009
41 YEARS LATER, JOAN MACINTOSH REPRISES ROLE OF AGAVE
When Joan MacIntosh
portrayed Dionysus' aunt Agave in Richard Schechner
's Dionysus In '69
, itself a 1968 adaptation of Euripides
' The Bacchae
, she was twenty-something years old. Now in her sixties, she is playing the same role in a new version of the play directed by Joanne Akalaitis
(and with music by Phillip Glass
), now running through August 30th at the Public Theater's Shakespeare In The Park
in New York. MacIntosh was once married to Schechner, and of course, De Palma's film of the 1968 production was released in 1970. This latest version of Dionysus is getting mixed reviews, but Theater Mania's Andy Propst
likes it, and has priase for MacIntosh's performance: But the greatest tragedy belongs to the spellbound Agave, who returns to the city proudly holding her son's head, announcing that she has killed a young lion. It's a horrific moment, made all the more so by MacIntosh's fierce commitment to the woman's wild delusion.
And while several reviews find that the show's biggest problem is finding relevance in modern society (see the reviews at Backstage and the New York Times, the latter of which calls the production "toothless"), Propst noted an interesting element of the stage design:
John Conklin's scenic design, an arc of bleachers that's backed by jutting beams, suggests the rubble at the World Trade Center. Indeed, this visual only reinforces one's sense that The Bacchae remains a call to moderation in the face of the incomprehensible.
I also have to mention the amusing anecdotes regarding raccoons rustling about amidst the outdoors production. Ben Brantley at the New York Times themes his review with the raccoons, while the Financial Times' Brendan Lemon actually felt the tug of a raccoon and looked down to see the animal "hopping up and down and nibbling on my right shoe."