Carnival Medea: A Bacchanal

From Georgia State University comes a wonderful reimagining of the Medea myth, reset in the colourful trappings of Trinidad’s carnival. This has two benefits: allowing a glimpse of Trinidadian culture whilst offering an interesting take on the Greek classic.

Carnival Medea is both a visual and aural spectacle with something for everyone.

Cassi Maddox’s portrayal of Medea is ideal in almost every respect. She proves equal to the task of bringing all aspects of Medea to life, being as adept at portraying Medea’s vulnerabilities as she is the traditional ferociousness of the character. She squeezes out the energy from every word and is a joy to watch. The innovative use of the two woman chorus is also excellent. Sometimes in sync, sometimes echoing and overlapping, the rhythmic speech is a delight to the ear. Full credit must go to the performers for daring to play as much with comedic elements of the lines as the tragic in a production of Medea.

The costumes, designed by Cynthia McCoy and Sonja Patterson, deserve their own praise. In particular, Medea’s final costume brilliantly evokes the winged beasts that pull the sun god’s chariot in Euripides’ play. Dancing is also used to great effect at the beginning of the play, although this soon takes a backseat to the drama only to be suddenly revived near the end. The ending itself, without wishing to spoil, is a potential source of confusion. It was only through a post-show discussion that it was made clear what had actually happened. The ambiguity it turns out was an artistic decision, but a little more clarity in the script would have been preferable to finding out after the show.

Despite this, Carnival Medea is both a visual and aural spectacle. There is something for everyone in this forthright and glamorous reinterpretation.

Reviews by James Beagon

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The Blurb

Adapted by Shirlene Holmes and Rhoma Spencer from the Euripides tragedy. In this retelling of the classic Greek drama, Holmes and Spencer set the ancient myth of a woman scorned in the carnival tradition of Trinidad. The carnival archetypes are brought to life in the characters of the play, creating an exploration of a woman who must balance honouring the Orishas (African gods) ruling her head, or unleash terrible violence on those around her. The play also features music and dance by Trinidadian choreographer Natalie Settle-Joseph.