Shizuoka Performing Arts Centre Kwai Tsing Theatre Reviewed: September 23 The unique theatre of Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki was on display during his latest offering Dionysus, based on Euripides' The Bacchae. Notorious for its darkness, the play tells how Dionysus, god of wine, arrives in Thebes and avenges himself on those who refuse to worship him by driving the women of the city mad. They run off into the hills and give themselves up to an orgy of sex, drunkenness and hunting. Pitted against Dionysus is King Pentheus. Dionysus lures him into the hills by playing on his prurient desire to see the women in their frenzied state, and the drama unfolds. Suzuki, whose actors undergo years of training in his techniques of voice and movement, specialises in applying traditional Japanese theatre to world classics. Throughout the production, the visual imagery and movement are intensely Japanese. Characters appear to float rather than walk, and slow, controlled passages or moments of total stillness are punctuated by flashes of movement or the striking of dramatic poses. The use of highly stylised Noh and Kabuki-style diction is powerful, and creates an intriguing contrast with the text in the surtitles. However, having one actress speak in English in the same style jarred. Suzuki has successfully reduced Euripides' work to its essential elements, but I wasn't convinced by his decision to use the cult of Dionysus to symbolise social repression. Dionysus may be cruel, but he represents the blind, irrational forces of nature - it's Pentheus who is repressed and repressive. Having Dionysus played by a group of priests instead of an individual created strong dramatic effects, and incorporated the Greek concept of the chorus effectively, but there was too great a dichotomy between the descriptions of the god's beauty and sensuality and the formal, white-faced figures who speak his lines. Nonetheless, this was 70 minutes of riveting theatre. The actors were masterful.