Review: Everyman Theatre - Medea @ Chapter
*Ancient Greek spoilers follow*
There is an over-saturation now with Shakespeare and his birthday celebrations. We rarely get to see much Greek tragedy, so rich in their insights and proving to contemporary audiences just how relevant they really are.
The Everyman stalwarts present a mixed bag of a production of Medea by Euripides (in a fine translation by Philip Vellacott), which still burns the vital flame of ancient Greek theatre. Medea is the extraordinary tale of of a mother and wife, betrayed by Jason, her adulterous husband, who takes into her own hands a most despicable revenge. She is to murder their very own children: two boys who are the whole world for the both of them.
This most ancient of plays is at its best in its dilemma of Medea and whether she could actually go through with the murder of her own children. It makes for compelling viewing and, when the deed is done, it's difficult to support her anymore as a character of merit. The heart-shattering justification of her actions is a hard pill to swallow, whilst Jason is only ever adamant in her wrongdoing and sorcery. The classical dynamic between a lead character and a chorus pitted against each other also makes for a stimulating experience.
As Medea, Alison Shephard is pronounced in the role, but not always a star presence. There are some great scenes with her, but, as the weight of the show lies in this demanding character, Shephard has given it a worthy attempt that should be applauded. As Jason, David Aspden is a heartless figure, sterile in his love of his wife and totally vitriolic after the infanticide.
The Greek chorus of Corinthian women are alive in their gestures and passing remarks on events taking place, however, some should, respectfully, improve their delivery of lines. A surprise was Lorna Prichard, in an outstanding cameo as the Messenger, revelling in the fine detail of the disgusting actions of the poisoning of Jason's new mistress and her father. Medea, not content in killing her own offspring, had to end the lives of those who took her husband away. A true highlight of the show.
The reveal of the killings of the children is truly operatic and put to my mind something out of Flash Gordon (a golden gong with dragons hanging over the murderess) and makes you think of the Far East and not so much ancient Greece.
It's up to the audience to decide whether or not what she did was right.
My response: certainly not.
Rich in revenge, resentment and the utmost grief.
Rating: 3 stars
Weeping Tudor Productions shall stage Socrate by Erik Satie in Cardiff 2016, part of Satiefest. Dates TBC.
If you would like to help bring Erik Satie's Uspud to the Edinburgh Fringe this August, you can check out Weeping Tudor Productions' Kickstarter campaign.
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Photo Credit: Everyman Theatre via Twitter