As one of the three great tragedians of ancient Greece, along with Sophocles and Aischylos, Euripides is well-known to modern theatergoers through masterworks such as “Electra.” From Aug. 26-Sept. 10, Theatre Project Tokyo will present one of Euripides’ later — and lesser-known — works, “Bakxai,” at its Benisan Pit theater in Tokyo.
Part of tpt’s occasional program of staging European classics, the production turns the spotlight on some of the company’s younger talent, transporting this 2,400-year-old drama into a contemporary tale of Tokyo life based on the story of Pentheus, the King of Thebes, and his hatred for Dionysius, the god of wine and revelry, whom Pentheus persecuted for his supposed corrupt influence on society. In revenge, Dionysius seduces all the women in Thebes, bringing the state to ruin.
Adapted by Hiromasa Kiuchi and directed by another of tpt’s proteges, Hirotaka Kumabayashi, this cross-generational collaboration brings a fresh approach to Euripides’ study of the fragility of a cultured society brought down by its leaders’ overconfidence and intolerance. As a play it is ancient; as a subject matter it is as relevant now as it was then.
“Bakxai” runs from Aug. 26-Sept. 10 at the Benisan Pit Theatre, near Morishita Station on the Oedo and Toei Shinjuku subway lines. Tickets are 5,250 yen. For more info, visit www.tpt.co.jp