An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere

Enter the Villa, The Quasimondo, The Bacchanalia

Bacchae

At the top of a ravine, two stair cases shoot down symmetrically into an expansive flower garden framed by an ornate wrought iron fence. From Lincoln Memorial Drive, glances at the distant beauty held in the Italianate terrace excite ideations that a real life Vito Corleone could have made their retreat there.

In all of its intrigue, it stands as a vintage monument, permanent show space for decorative arts, and for a brief moment the Villa Terrace offers itself as theatrical staging befitting a tribute to the gods. Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre begins its season by laying at the alter The Bacchanalia, a wonderfully presented dramatic montage in the tradition of Greek tragedy and cult.

Other Worldly

Showcasing major threads in the performance repertoire of Quasimondo, The Bacchanalia is anything but traditional. Its multiple dimensions incorporate human puppetry, masks, interpretive dance and a host of other exceptional dramatic special effects.

Whisking its audience away to antiquity, Artistic Directors Brian Rott and Jessi Miller compose The Bacchanalia, a three act masterpiece staged using three distinct spaces of the Villa Terrance.

Three Takes

On the terrace, Act One introduces us to the tradition of the Bacchanalia from perspectives held by mortals and gods. Seamlessly the audience is transferred deep into the mundane on-goings of mythological Greek life.

A league of pre-knowledge gentlemen figure and hash out the philosophical underpinnings of Western thought. Among them, a who’s who of pre-educated fools the likes of Socrates (Michael Davis), Aristotle (Josh Bryan), Plato (Kirk Thomsen) and even Diogenes (Michael Guthrie) bumble around until the gods intervene. Heroes in the making leave their doting maids, to find honor and adventure, encountering all manners of bane and beast.

The gods show their boredom, meddling in the lives of mortals. Naturally, Zeus (Davis) is central to the drama, as the grand scandal of his affair with Semele (Sarah Ginger Seefeldt) is portrayed so that we know how this “Bacchanalia” madness started. Hermes (Thomsen) complicit in this tawdry episode, absurdly assists Zeus avoid Hera’s (Brooke Maroldi) temper.

Act Two, performed in the court yard, prominently features Apollo (Ben Yela) and Artemis (Jenni Reinke) as they continuously enter the earthly fray, as they choose lovers and take turns instigating and intervening in lovers’ quarrels.

Act Three, staged in the terrace foyer, closes the show with a tremendous sense of abstract fluidity, as several vignettes bridge the past to the present, offering dramatic metaphors to make sense of the frailty, purpose and futility human existence.

For Your Eyes Only

A hedonistic fever engulfs The Bacchanalia production unwittingly infecting the audience with allusions of sexual deviance and a reasonable level contextual perversity (although their is nothing explicitly lewd or vulgar, this is absolutely and adult ages show).

The Bacchanalia is absolutely stellar and a must see. The musical composition accompanying the show performed by Bill Webb and backed up by Narazio Chickpeazio, and player Ben Yela provides the perfect shading to the production.

The ensemble is rounded out with multiple roles from Emily Craig, Jeff Kriesel, Sarah Ann Mellstrom, Andrew Parchman, Michael Weiss, Ashley Milewski, Jessi Miller and Brian Rott.

The final run of The Bacchanalia is tonight at 7:00p at the Villa Terrace. The show is set outdoors for two scenes, so dress accordingly. For tonight the perfect closing night, there shouldn’t be an issue.

Brian Rott, Artistic Director of Quasimondo, introduces “Bacchanalia Redux” at the Villa Terrace. from Andy Walsh on Vimeo.

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