Theatre | The Bacchae

MADC will be pulling no punches this theatre season with an updated version of the Ancient Greek classic, The Bacchae, playing at MITP, Valletta. But is all just a little too extravagant? Director Toni Attard speaks.

“When moral issues are flagged as national values to affirm a cultural hegemony, we should heed the prophecy of Teiresias: when stupid men say stupid things, sorrow follows,” says Toni Attard in the programme for The Bacchae, an adaptation of the Greek tragedy by David Grieg, directed by Attard and staged by MADC at the MITP Theatre, St Christopher’s Street, Valletta.

And as anybody who has stumbled upon the play’s promotional posters on Facebook will tell you, Attard and his team have made a conscious effort to update Euripides’s tale concerning the vengeful god of drink and ecstasy, Dionysius (Kurt Castillo), and, indeed, to imbue it with local relevance.

“As with any theatre performance, the desire is to engage with a local audience and hopefully fuel their imagination. This production specifically draws on aspects of Maltese culture, both visually and orally. Being able to recognise familiar aspects of their own cultural heritage should further emphasise the continued relevance of the dramatic themes, ongoing questions about morality, how and what it means to live,” Attard said.

Another striking aspect of this production is the very clear focus on the gender-bending potential of not just the key figure of Dionysius, but also the rest of the cast. Far from being a cheap, attention grabbing tactic, Attard contends that this was born out of an aesthetic decision that is relevant to the core of the play itself.

“The promo shots are true to the production style and there definitely is a camp sensibility throughout. Dionysus’s sexuality is inherently ambiguous, embodying both masculine and feminine, and this reflects the various dichotomies running through the play: rational versus irrational; individual versus society; repression versus liberation.

“Whether or not there’s something intrinsically camp enshrined within the play itself isn’t really the issue. The issue is how comfortable men are with their feminine side and to what extent they oppress that in their relationships with women and men,” Attard said.

The Bacchae will be playing for two more weekends. For more information and tickets log on to, or search for The Bacchae on Facebook.