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The play A Mouthful of Birds by Caryl Churchill and David Lan is loosely based around the themes explored by Euripides in The Bacchae. Both plays share similar themes and issues, yet contain many contrasting characters and circumstances due to the modernisation or appropriation of The Bacchae into a post-modern theatre piece for a contemporary audience with different views, morals and beliefs.
The plays both concentrate on themes of violence, possession and transformation. Both works show women violently breaking out of their stereotypical role of the time, and acting possessed, or losing control of the physical and emotional realities of life. The Bacchae demonstrates this mainly through the Bacchaen women who are assumedly possessed by a power or spirit, that of the God Dionysus whom they worship. They are possessed by a madness that causes them to act violently and erratically, for example when Agave is taken over by this madness she kills her son without realizing who he is (Pg. 735 of Thea 111 Collected Plays Handbook). A Mouthful of Birds'contextualise[s] modern forms of possession (addiction, anxiety, memory, passion etc.) within the Euripidean paradigm of the relation between pleasure, power and violence'.
Although the basic themes are similar, the execution of the plays onstage in their respective times made both productions entirely different. The Bacchae is often seen as a play that openly mocks women and the ease at which they embrace hysteria. Considering that in its time a cast of all male actors performed it an underlying sarcastic element of humour is presented. Thus, the play carries the theme of hysteria (mainly in women) and possession by spirits, madness and passion, yet perhaps in a slightly less serious way than A Mouthful of Birds. The female roles in contemporary plays have now, become equal to that of male actors. In the period leading up to and surrounding the writing and production of A Mo…

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