Glasgow Citizens Theatre
THE thought of a mother slaying her children out of spite remains so instinctively repugnant, so accessible and horrific to modern sensibilities, that Euripides’ 2,500-year-old Medea scarcely benefits from too much theatrical window dressing. Director Barrie Rutter’s notes for this Northern Broadsides production, adapted by Tom Paulin, he references the poet’s desire for the play "to be tougher. More straight lefts and less shadow boxing". And certainly, Paulin’s translation is a brutally concise, punchy one, as measured with its muscular poetic flourishes as it is self-consciously down-to-earth. In the title role, Nina Kristofferson is a striking presence, graceful yet hellish in her wrath, the very soul of the gifted barbarian, deceived by her husband and lashing out with thrilling heat and chilling calculation at a society that would suppress an immigrant woman. Sadly, her dominance can’t obscure the fact that Rutter has simply pitched too many ideas at the staging and hoped they will coalesce. Affording civilised Corinth the flavour of a Yorkshire mill town is all well and good, but the chorus of gossipy housewives are too often sluggishly flat, even when reaching for their incongruous instruments and delivering a moribund blues backing. As Jason, Andrew Pollard is the picture of a nouveau riche, northern aristocrat. But beyond his strutting self-regard, there’s precious little sense of the great hero of Greek mythology, denying his downfall the greater poignancy.