The Berkovian Medea, Greenside @ Nicolson Sq, Review
The oldest and darkest revenge tragedy is given the Berkoff treatment in this truly outstanding production from Muchmuchmore Theatre.
From the opening scene, the stage is full of action as the chorus of nine women and five men, immaculately groomed, bodies burnished with gold, toss and catch and pass the lines of the story from one to another. The staging throughout is powerful and striking as the bodies of the chorus form a series of tableaux - a ship or a castle or moments of action frozen into long-limbed sculptural poses that evoke scenes from the pediments and metopes of the Parthenon.
Out of this physical landscape emerge the main characters. Jason, now a middle-aged hero, has spurned the woman he brought home in triumph with his other trophy - The Golden Fleece. He now plans to marry Glauce, the pretty young daughter of the king. Medea, abandoned and isolated - "a refugee, a migrant from the East" - feels a swelling tide of blackness rising up inside her. She is a dangerous woman, a sorceress, and the king condemns her to immediate exile. She begs for one more day...
The chorus warns and pleads with the characters; like the audience in ancient Athens, they know how this story will end, but they are powerless to intervene as Medea plots and wreaks her terrible vengeance.
The main actors all deliver strong performances, but, as in so much later drama, the villain - or in this case the villainess - has the best part. She delivers one of the most chilling lines in all of tragedy: "Your pain shall be my comfort."
This is an excellent piece of ensemble theatre which takes the best elements of the Berkoff style while avoiding its potential excesses.
This first-rate show deserved a longer run.
22-27 August, 4.05pm
Tickets £9.50 (£7.50)