Medea gives more perspectives than Medea's alone; but as the protagonist whose husband wishes to divorce and exile her in favour of a younger, better connected woman, Ishia Bennison so dominates the proceedings that it's easy not to notice. Desolated, bereft even of predictable emotional responses and a little schizoid, she is such a commanding focus that all other potential empathies are swamped and, deprived of contrast, Medea's own decision to murder her children seems gratuitous rather than the response to real, wounding maltreatment that it is.
The directorial/design vision borders on the mechanistic: actors move between marks and scrawl in crayon on white flats; lighting changes are stark and sudden, like car gears crashing; no discernible pattern to exits and entrances, nor firm sense of location ("Go into the house," spoken on an unambiguous interior set). Adaptor Clare Venables' firm ideas emerge from the text rather than being imposed upon it, but for a Greek drama which (unusually) pitches its tragedy entirely on the mortal, human plane, this production feels curiously inorganic.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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