Bacchae: Prelude to a Purge

Marlene Monteiro Freitas (Lisbon)

18 – 19 Jun

Sadler's Wells


  • The post-show talk will be BSL interpreted on Tuesday 18 June


Content Warning:

The production features strobe effects, loud music and a video showing childbirth/labour

A raucous and absurd carnival processes onstage to the sounds of Brazilian funk, clown antics, pop, and Ravel’s Boléro.

In this wildly delirious work, Cape Verde-born, Lisbon-based choreographer and performance artist Marlene Monteiro Freitas dares you to traverse the order and wild chaos of Euripides—and ultimately, the depths of the human psyche.

In 2017, Marlene was acknowledged by the government of Cape Verde for her cultural achievement. In 2018, she created Canine Jaunâtre 3 for Batsheva Dance Company and was awarded the Silver Lion award for dance at the Venice Biennale.


"offers exquisite moments and a powerful reflection of our chaotic world through the bizarre."
— -
"comical and dark, provoking and sometimes just a little lovingly stupid"
— - The Only Culture Vulture
Five trumpeters and eight dancers scream, sing, and don masks, eventually joining in a mad, mesmerizing rendition of Ravel’s Boléro. Half carnival, half decadent variety show, this seductive “Bacchae” embodies the Dionysian spirit that drives the play, dark side and all.
— Marina Harss (The New Yorker)


Choreography Marlene Monteiro Freitas
Set and lighting design Yannick Fouassier
Sound design Tiago Cerqueira
Produced by P.OR.K (Lisbon, PT)
Image Credit © Laurent Philippe



Sadler's Wells


Did you know?

Originally created for a ballet and with influences from jazz, Boléro is a repetitive orchestral crescendo composed by Maurice Ravel. While you might not know the name, you’re very likely to have heard this music before. The piece was a universal success when it was released in 1928. It has been described as, “a sinuous and sexy composition with ‘no music in it’”.

Euripides was a famous playwright in Ancient Greece. He wrote a play called The Bacchae, a tragedy based on a Greek myth about the punishment of a king and his mother by the god Dionysus. Also known as Bacchus to the Romans, Dionysus was Greek god of fertility and later came to be god of wine and pleasure. His followers were known as the Bacchae and they often celebrated together in wild, raucous gatherings.