No-one does tragedy like the Greeks. Despite the heavy subject matter, the opening night of Euripides’ Medea at the Liverpool Everyman was nothing short of delightful. It was disappointing to see a few seats left empty. Some readers may feel a Greek tragedy "isn’t my scene" but I tell you now, you’re wrong. This exhilarating new adaptation, written by Irish poet Tom Paulin, is immensely accessible. If, for instance, you enjoy the high drama and overwhelming sense of depression delivered by an episode of Eastenders, you would certainly enjoy this play. The action opens with a lowly nurse lamenting upon Medea’s predicament. The wife of hero Jason, she has learned of her husband’s infidelity with the daughter of the King, his plans to marry her and cast Medea into exile. In a deep depression, we hear wails and shrieks from this troubled, clearly unstable, woman. A terrible unease permeates the nurse’s dialogue. A storm is upon us, she warns. Medea, brilliantly played by Nina Kristofferson, bursts onto the stage instantly exuding the shrewd intelligence of her character, with an energy that does not falter throughout. Reference to the climactic events in the play are littered throughout the dialogue, so forgive me if I ruin your enjoyment by discussing vital elements of the plot. Betrayal, hatred, humiliation, anger, vengeance, and the monstrous extremes of human nature are explored in this disturbing play. Like his contemporary playwrights, Euripides took his inspiration from Greek Mythology, transforming the legends into real-life characters. In the Greek myth, Medea, is a foreigner from the Black Sea country - now known as Georgia. She is a princess and a witch, who marries the Greek hero, Jason. Medea had helped Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece killing the giant serpent that guarded it. She then killed her own brother, betrayed her entire family and escaped with Jason to Greece. They settled in Corinth, where Jason took a new bride. Euripides imagines how such a woman as Medea would react to this. He was a truly forward thinking writer of his age, with many contemporaries mocking him for putting female characters at the forefront of his works. In short, Medea’s reaction is to poison her husband’s "tart", seek revenge on her father, King Creon, and murder her own two children. Yes, you read that right. Kill her own flesh and blood to spite her husband and cause him the deepest pain. And, frighteningly, Medea’s train of thought comes across as quite rational, even sensible. We are on her side, as are, she believes, the gods. Having played witness to her anguish, her husband’s infuriating arrogance, her emotional turmoil in weighing up love for her children against deep hatred for her husband, we understand her choice. Her boys’ young innocent faces are now too painful to look at, representing all that her husband has destroyed. Her only way out is to seek justice in Jason’s total devastation. It struck me that this horrific story could be plucked straight from an episode of The Jerry Springer Show. Thankfully, despite sympathy for Medea, there were no Americans in the audience shouting "You go, girl!" Seriously though, this play encapsulates what can push us, woman or man, to commit a Crime of Passion, and it is as relevant today as it was back in 480BCE. I must praise not only the language chosen by Tom Paulin, but the incredible talents of Northern Broadsides in delivering this modern feel. An almost thread bare yet visually striking set is brought to life by music used so effortlessly throughout this production. Harmonicas, a saxophone, keyboards, an electric guitar and the crash of symbols bring a truly soulful feel to this ancient storyline. Medea’s emotions resonate throughout the Everyman, her stormy temper captured in heavy drumbeats. Nina Kristofferson’s performance is superb, capturing the manic episode into which Medea spirals with a wicked glint in her eye and knowing curve of her lip. Quite simply, an utterly fantastic piece of theatre. Go and see it while you have the chance. 8/10 - Take note: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
Copyright © 2011 Nina Kristofferson´s All rights reserved.
Home Book Tickets News Shop Contact Support Us