Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cumming out on top

Just last post I wrote that it's not everyday you spend a few hours inside the heads of "theatrical divas immersed in sex..." I should have also added that it's not often said divas are men flirting on stage in wigs and skirts with faces covered in slap. What else should I have expected from a camped up version of The Bacchae staring Alan Cumming, you ask? Fair point.

From the opening scene when Alan descends suspended by his ankles with his bum exposed from under a gold kilt, I understood why the wacky Bacchae was the hit of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is now on transfer to the Lyric Hammersmith: Alan is the acceptable (and some) face of sexual ambiguity. Like a naughty schoolboy he can get away with behaviour that is controversial. In this new version of Euripides' tragedy, Cumming takes on the role of Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy (as if the two could ever be mutually exclusive) as a hyper-queen and steals the show.

Alan is so spectacular that the show's main fault is that his appearances render the moments without him flat. As the lascivious desk clerk ('a flaming queen who's obviously besotted') fawning over Tom Cruise, he's responsible for the only enjoyable scene in Kubrick's otherwise torpid Eyes Wide Shut. The same pleasure principle applies in the Bacchae: Alan makes a delicious Dionysus. He camped marvellously between comedic prankster and murder-some menace. If Dionysus is the god of theatre, then surely Cumming is the god of Scottish stage?

The Bacchae
Until 22 Sept
0870 050 0511, £10-£27

P.S - In true bacchanalia spirit post-show wine consumption was enjoyed amongst the company of West End Whingers, Interval Drinks and Helen Smith. But we deny any connection with the subsequent indictment scandalising today's binge drinking as akin to 18th century Gin Lane.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cumming was great in Emma and hilarious in both Spy Kids films. Let's hope we see more of him.

5:48 pm  
Anonymous Andrew (a West End Whinger) said...

CS:

1. Wacky doesn't rhyme with Bacchae. Pay attention.

2. Dionysus may be the god of wine and ecstasy, but he's not all good. He is also the god of theatre.

3. "Cumming on top" - that's a bit blue, don't you think?

But otherwise: V. good.

9:46 pm  
Anonymous Henry said...

Hi CS-- Saw this last night. In true form Alan was splendid. Made me droolw ith memories of his outing at the Donmar. You were too young I should think...Bon anon

xx Henry

8:00 am  
Anonymous Claire said...

Ohhh....Cummings was just ab fab as Mr.O in Sex in the City -- remember Dolce e Gabbana man?

9:27 am  
Anonymous bacchae said...

Cumming is terrific. A legend.

9:58 am  

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