Full A- Team Review: Dionysus in 69

by A Team Reviewer Sarah Saltwick

What a crazy play.  Don’t read any reviews if you are planning on seeing it (which you should!!) It feels (almost) impossible to review the Rude Mech’s newest production/adventure/experience/encounter DIONYSUS IN 69.  The experience will be different for each audience member on any given night. And the less you know going in, the better.  In fact, if you have already heard about production and are interested, just go see it.  Get your ticket and go. Don’t read this. Don’t read any of the other reviews until you’ve seen the play.  It’s a performance you will not likely encounter again created by a confident and skilled ensemble.  My only two recommendations are wear comfortable (not fancy) clothes and read your program.  Or even better, read up on Dionysus. The dialogue can be dense and it’s fun to have handle on the mythology. But this is not a play about dialogue. It is a play about theatre and audience, it is a play about sex and pleasure, it is a play about danger and control. A tragedy.  A comedy.  X rated with moments of innocence. Or at least that what it felt like to me.

I had the privilege and pleasure of attending a talk back with Richard Schechner, the original director who gave significant insight in the play.  He spoke of the performance having both a game and a score.  A score is a moment or scene that is always played the same – the same movements, dialogue and sounds.  A game has rules and a desired outcome but each time is slightly different. The player of the game (or the scene) has some freedoms.  In many ways, the entire play is a game.  There is a beginning and there is a end but how we get
there is an adventure. It’s a testament to skill of the ensemble and the director how it is both controlled and chaotic.

Those who will enjoy their experience/the production the most are those who fully embrace that controlled chaos.  Early in the play, there is an announcement that the deity Dionysus is here.  To paraphrase from the script, if you can believe that, you will have a very good time.  If you are skeptical, you’ve got 90 minutes against a wall.  Personally, I was against that wall.  Thorough no fault of the production, I spent most of the play thinking, not feeling, and watching other audience members. I felt like I was at the wrong church. But this tells you more about me than the play.  My recommendation is still to go.  Sit high if you’re feeling shy.
Things like this don’t happen every day. Any student of the theater owes it to themselves to go and see a piece of living history.  And then hopefully, spend some time thinking about the future. And then create something.

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About nowplayingaustin

The Austin Creative Alliance is a nonprofit performing arts service organization working to cultivate an environment where the performing arts can grow and flourish. We serve over 130 arts organizations with marketing, ticketing, audience development services; AEA paymaster, information & referral services — plus access to affordable health, liability, and event insurance. We also provide online professional development seminars, fiscal sponsorship services for emerging arts groups, host annual unified general auditions, annual theatre industry awards, and consistently advocate for the many benefits the arts bring to our quality of life.

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