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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

ASSIGNMENT - "Dionysus in Stony Mountain" discussion for Journalism

My fellow CreCommers and I went to see a play at the Rachel Browne Theatre called Dionysus in Stony Mountain.  The title of the play could have served as a warning for me about the complex language and concepts I was about to sit through, as I had never heard of the Greek god Dionysus.

Having seen the play now, I still don't really understand the title's connection.  The character James (Ross McMillan) gets a prison tattoo of Dionysus on his arm, and explains a bit about him to his psychiatrist, Heidi (Sarah Constible).  But this conversation was a bit over my head, as was much of the first half of the play.

The first half takes place in Stony Mountain, during a session between James and Heidi, after James has stopped taking his lithium, and started memorizing quotes from the German philosopher Nietzsche.  James spends most of the session ranting about his new beliefs and views on the world, and often quoting at length from Nietzsche's writing.

The language is very heavy.  But I think that even though I didn't understand much of it, that didn't take away from my experience of the story.  I don't think James is meant to be completely understood by your average person meeting him for the first time.

The second half was easier to digest.  Constible still played Heidi, though no longer a psychiatrist, and McMillan switched characters to play Heidi's uncle, checking up on her at her mother's request.

Heidi's uncle brought a lot more comedy to the play.  He's a jaded businessman who enjoys taking jabs at Heidi and her new life.  He also speaks much simpler than James did in the first half.

I haven't been to many plays, but I think the acting in Dionysus in Stony Mountain was incredible.  Each half was around 55 minutes long, and the shear fact that these two actors could remember that many lines is commendable to me.  The fact that they could deliver that many lines emotionally and convincingly is nothing short of amazing.

I felt like McMillan did an outstanding job switching roles.  Had I not been told earlier, I may not have known it was still him in the second half.

But the play did drag a bit.  The first half was a long time to pay as much attention as I felt the dialogue needed me to.  The second half should have been easier, but I felt my mind was already pretty exhausted from the first half.

Overall it was a good experience.  It was very interesting to see how much a script can do with just two people talking.