For many years Euripides’ The Bacchae has tantalized Xsight! artistic director Brian Jeffery. It must seem a natural for the man who helped create the 1989 sexual thriller/murder mystery What Are We Going to Do About Mary? and Xsight!’s 1990 religious satire, The Pope’s Toe, to explore the collision of religious faith, sexual passion, and social convention at the heart of this ancient Greek drama. But though Jeffery seems attracted to the play partly because of its excess–he says that nothing in contemporary drama is so “graphically out of proportion as the Greeks”–he’s also hoping to “live up to the challenge of a classic.” Not so much loosely adapting as “aggressively manipulating” the play, he’s kept its characters and plot but added his own elements of ritual in music and dance. James Brown and Nine Inch Nails are among the recorded artists; Jeffery’s also employing Chicago singer-dancer Sara Kraft for onstage music (I can’t wait to hear what she does with such pop classics as “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”). With a black vinyl set and a Dionysus roughly modeled on such contemporary gods as rock stars and sports heroes, Xsight!’s The Moment Bacchus Came is definitely an update–the company’s first literary adaptation since the 1992 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf: The Dance. But it’s far from a spoof: Jeffery shows a healthy respect for Euripides’ poetic approach to carnage. Thursday, December 4, Friday, and Saturday at 8 in the Josephine Louis Theatre of Northwestern University, 1979 South Campus Dr. in Evanston; $15-$18, $6 for full-time students. Call 847-491-7282 for tickets and information. –Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by William Frederking.