Following his revivals of classic comedies (The Royal Family and Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan) at the West End's Theatre Royal Haymarket, Peter Hall will turn his hand once again to Greek tragedy. Hall - who famously staged the ten-hour, Trojan War epic Tantalus in a 2000/2001 co-production for the RSC and the Denver Centre Theater Company - will direct Euripides' Bacchai, in a new version by Colin Teevan at the National this spring.

Bacchai will open at the NT Olivier on 17 May 2002 (previews from 8 May) and will continue to 8 June, following which it will visit Greece, where the company will perform on 28 and 29 June at the amphitheatre in Epidaurus as part of the Hellenic Festival.

Hall describes Bacchai, which was written in the fifth century BC, as "a short sharp play and one of the most challenging ever written". The piece dramatises the emotional and rational sides of the human psyche, when the god Dionysus punishes the Thebans by unleashing upon them the full force of female sexuality, which leads to the collapse of social order.

The company for the Bacchai are Lee Haven-Jones, Greg Hicks, Chuk Iwuji, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Renzo Murrone, Stefani Pleasence, Margaret Preece, Marie-Gabrielle Rotie, David Ryall, Rachel Sanders, Geoffrety Streatfield and Clare Swinburne. The production is designed by Alison Chitty, with music by Harrison Birtwistle, lighting by Peter Mumford and movement by Marie-Gabrielle Rotie.

Over the past 20 years, Hall has regularly returned to the Greek myths, frequently employing the use of masks, as with Tantalus. In addition to that production, which visited London's Barbican last year, Hall's productions of this sort include Lysistrata, as well as The Oresteia and The Oedipus Plays, both at the National.

- by Terri Paddock