LIFT and Sadler’s Wells present Bacchae: Prelude to a Purge Marlene Monteiro Freitas

Nothing makes sense and yet a profoundly original and entrancing piece.

LIFT and Sadler’s Wells present Bacchae: Prelude to a Purge Marlene Monteiro Freitas

Entering the auditorium, you are immediately met with a cacophony of chaos and noise, from the saxophonists scattered among the audience to the insistent sound of a whistle. It could be described as an odd tuning of the orchestra. The clownish performers in swimming hats are clearly distinguished by their costumes: five saxophonists in black, five performers in all white, a scheming duo in white and grey, and a solitary figure in a grey suit.

Marlene Monteiro Freitas' choreography is characterised by a distinct absurdist sense of humour, precise movements, and a skilful use of visual composition through intricate formations. The performance is structured through the skilful timing of progression and transition of segments. The interesting and thorough exploration of objects on stage offers glimpses of commentary on our contemporary world.

The committed and quirky performers embody a fusion of cabaret style and absurdism. Each plays their part perfectly, and despite the challenging nature of their characters, the only thing they break is a sweat. Their excellent execution demonstrates their ability to remain oddly mesmerising, no matter the task.

Yannick Fouassier’s use of light and space is simple yet full of potential. The luminous backdrop, which backlights the performers, acts as a canvas for all that ensues.

As the performance progresses, it occasionally feels as if time stretches, sometimes failing to sustain interest. Often, when a segment seems to verge on the mundane, the performers reel you back in with a laugh. However, the performance can be jarring and overstimulating at times. Nonetheless, if you have a taste for the unconventional and are not in a rush, this piece offers exquisite moments and a powerful reflection of our chaotic world through the bizarre.

Header Image Credit: Laurent Philippe

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Monica Cox

Monica Cox Voice Reviewer

Monica is a theatre and film director, writer and dramaturg with a particular interest in queer and female stories. She has a degree in Spanish and Russian and a Masters in Theatremaking.

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