In Greek mythology Medea was the daughter of King Aeetes of Colchis, niece of Cirece and the grand-daughter of Helios the sun-god. She was a woman of great lineage when she became wife to Jason of Argos when he came to steal the golden fleece. Renowned sorceress and a woman of intense power Medea seeks justice when she learns of the betrayal of her husband Jason when he takes a new wife in Princess Glauce.
We are given an introduction to the lives of the two as told through the narrative of Medea’s nurse and as the a cappella choir sings sombre music during the introduction we see a forlorn Medea learning of the betrayal. With the use of modern classics the a cappella choir is a very clever addition to the play and throughout setting the tone at the appropriate moments.
Re – working the original Greek classic written by Euripides in 431 BC it is an age-old tale that playwright Suzie Miller has breathed new life into. It delves deeper into the psyche and struggle of a woman whose dreams and hopes have been shattered. Rather than paint Medea as a crazy woman scorned she breathes a powerful sense ownership, strength and compassion into Medea casting her in a new light.
As the vengeance of Medea unfolds we are taken down the atramentous path of her mind and her dark spiral into a fate that can not be undone. She seeks retribution in the form of sorcery by murdering her love rival but when her plan goes astray she is forced to take the lives of her own sons to protect them from brutal deaths. She becomes a pillar of grief and sorrow that represents the voices of women that have remained silent through the ages. This is her story and her voice; resonating with the plight of women who have suffered throughout the ages.
” I have had to do what a man would do, what a man would honor another man for doing”. – Medea
With a theater in the round the set design was quite minimalistic, however all parts of the stage were used effectively and efficiently. The stage is boarded by melted candles and this gives the feel of Medea’s home and her dark mind. It is quite effective as the stage design does not detract from the story being told. A large table with a candle covered tree are the only other set pieces and both are used quite expertly. Likewise with the costuming and music, both simple yet adequate.
As Medea Christen O’Leary is simply brilliant. She evokes both pathos and humor as she passionately portrays the life of one of history’s most ambitious Greek women. She is a powerful actress that embodies the suffering of the lover and the mother.Intense and with the ability to draw the viewer in she is cast perfectly as Medea and conveys the darkness of the woman’s mind with evocative emotion. The final monologue that she delivers at the end of the play is simply unforgettable.Damien Cassidy as Jason embodies the betrayal of the husband portaying a vow breaker and the weaknesses that have seen him cause the ultimate suffering. Cassidy plays this role rather exceptionally. His ultimate suffering when learning of the fate of his sons is moving and powerful as he rages at Medea. Helen Christinson as the nurse and briefly as Princess Glauce is versatile and her loyalty for Medea is unwavering, which she portrays effortlessly her interactions with Medea.
“My pain would be relieved in death, my soul returned would be a welcome release from it, but I must live.. I will remain a living image of what men can drive a woman to do.” – Medea
The play is a dark intense look into issues that are as current today as they were when the play was first written in 431 BC and the human condition has hardly changed. Both director Todd MacDonald and playwriter Suzie Miller have breathed new life into these themes to create a successful play. It is an amazing experience that introduces an old story into a new generation by cleverly using modern music, dramatic lighting and a wonderful cast. Even if viewers are not familiar with the original tale of Jason and the Argonauts the themes are ones that evoke pathos in viewers making it an unforgettable and moving piece of theater.