July 23, 2015

Iggy Pop is a rock god, sure. But an almighty god? Well, he is in “Karaoke Bacchae,” a high-concept, low-comedy riff on “The Bacchae,” Euripides’s great fragmented tragedy. As part of the New Ohio Theater’s annual Ice Factory Festival, the Meta-Phys Ed. theater company has reset all that peripeteia and anagnorisis in a college-town sports bar. There’s beer pong in the foreground and a hockey game playing on a wall in the back. In the middle, citizens of Thebes and several wild interlopers work toward dismemberment and desperate recognition while working through songs by Jay-Z and Ike and Tina. It’s just another karaoke night for the persnickety bartender Pentheus (Tim Craig) until Dionysus arrives, a couple of drunken sorority girls in tow. (Ah, Greek life!) For reasons never sufficiently explained, Dionysus is occupying the body of Iggy Pop (played by the “boylesque” star James Tigger! Ferguson). Mr. Pop, with his chest bare and nipples aglitter, makes quite an entrance, pulling a bottle of wine out of his gold pants (this is impressive; these are very tight pants) and announcing that he’s the son of Zeus. Pentheus isn’t so sure. Then King Cadmus (Don Castro) sings something by the Clash.