award-winning, powerful, pared-down version of Euripides' classic
"A perceptive and alarmingly modern insight into the devastating power of perverted love and twisted logic. A fabulous story, and powerful theatre. "
This production aroused tremendous excitement on a tour of arts centres and colleges in England.
It took Canada by storm, chosen as best production at each of the three festivals it played.
After performances at the 1999 RSC Visitors Season, Medea played the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, winning awards for Best Production and Best Female Performer.
Medea has proved to be of particular interest to schools and colleges both in the UK and further afield - Chile, Peru, Norway, Portugal and The Ukraine. An accompanying workshop explores the themes and the structure of Euripides' original, relating these to present day concerns and styles of theatre.
Medea is suitable for ages 14+
Jason's body, wrapped in cloth, is conjured out of the sea by Medea.
Their sons demand to be told again why Jason deserted them and why their mother killed them. So Jason and Medea begin to recount the story.
The nurse is the first character to be presented. She reminds the children of what happened before the fateful day. How Medea helped Jason and the Argonauts win the Golden Fleece. How Medea fell in love with Jason and fled with him first to Iolchis - where she was responsible for killing the king - and then to Corinth. And how Jason and Medea lived in exile in Corinth and raised their two sons.
But now Jason has announced that he is to marry the daughter of Kreon, King of Corinth, and Medea is devastated. Medea can be heard howling inside the house. The Nurse is clear that Jason is in the wrong. She feels sympathy for Medea, though the ferocity of her mistress' temper frightens her.
The Tutor joins her, bring the boys back home. Nurse and Tutor condemn Jason's selfishness as Medea is heard lamenting inside the house. The Nurse tells the Tutor to keep the children away from their mother.
The Women of Corinth arrive to find out what's happening. When Medea appears, her fury is thoroughly controlled. She persuades the women to support her attempts to revenge herself on Jason.
Kreon the King appears. Only he seems to be truly aware of the danger that Medea poses. He announces that he intends to banish her and the children immediately. But in the face of her pleas he allows her to stay one more day.
When Kreon has gone Medea reveals her initial plan of action - looking for the opportunity to kill Jason and his new bride. When Jason arrives he tries to persuade Medea that his marriage will be for the benefit of them all - that she and the children will thrive through this alliance with the royal family. But Medea is thoroughly unpersuaded and refuses his offers of help.
Medea needs somewhere to escape to after the planned murder. Suddenly Aigeus, King of Athens, arrives having just visited the oracle of Apollo to ask for help in producing a son. Medea promises to help him overcome this problem if he will offer her refuge. He agrees, provided that she find her own way to Athens so as not to compromise him.
After Aigeus' departure, Medea reveals to the Women of Corinth that her plan includes the murder of her two sons. The women beg her to reconsider. Jason returns and Medea fools him into believing that she now agrees with what he has done. She persuades Jason to encourage his new bride to accept the gift of a golden robe and coronet that her boys will carry. The robe and coronet are impregnated with a deadly poison.
The Tutor arrives to confirm that the gift has been delivered and can't understand why Medea is not happy at the news. He delivers the boys back to Medea's care.
The Messenger bursts onto the scene with news of the deaths of Kreon and his daughter. He describes in detail the horror caused by the poisoned gifts.
Medea agonises about what she is to do but finally enters the house to murder he sons - knowing that other hands would otherwise kill them for bearing the gifts. The women listen to the screams of the children, having sworn an oath not to intervene.
Jason returns to discover what has happened and batters at the door of the house. Medea appears in a winged chariot with the bodies of the boys and lays out a justification for her actions. Jason knows his life has lost all meaning. Medea refuses to allow Jason to touch the bodies of his dead sons. Jason slips back into the sea from where Medea had conjured him. As Medea settles once again on the rocks the voices of the boys make it clear that still don't understand why the killing had to happen.
photos by Steve Tanner