Fourth Monkey's Women of Greece: Medusa

Energetic, disturbing and just a bit confusing, Fourth Monkey's latest offering of physical theatre crashes onto the festival stage in this entertaining if messy and uneven reworking of the Greek myth of Medusa.

As is typical with Fourth Monkey the standard of performance is excellent

Fourth Monkey has a, shall we say, distinctive approach to festival shows, bringing a collection of thematically linked pieces each performed with the company's signature highly physical, dark and macabre sense of style. This festival is no different with a new batch of horror filled tales based on Greek legends.

In Medusa we follow the tale of the titular tragic nymph, who suffers a horrific injustice by the gods which damns her and her sisters to torment and their subsequent quest for revenge.

As is typical with Fourth Monkey the standard of performance is excellent, each performer brings huge amounts of energy and character to every scene, with some stunning choreography that demonstrates a level of coordination and precision that would put many professional dance companies to shame. This contributes to the show’s strongest element; its visual style. The combination of choreography, lighting, costume, and live music creates a fabulous sense of atmosphere and scene that enhances the sense of shock and revulsion the play elicits from you.

This being said, however, the show falls down in actually putting forward the story it is attempting tell. The script is incredibly dense and difficult to listen to, whilst at the same time being vague and overtly poetic in its attempt to convey the plot. This leaves important character relationships, motivations and actions unclear and often confusing. By the play’s hair-tearing and teeth gnashing end we are left wondering what we just watched and why we should care. The script’s inability to provide a solid footing hampers the performer’s otherwise stellar attempts to convey character and takes away from the tragedy of the piece as we are left unable to relate to events that we have no frame of reference to understand. New elements are frequently introduced and dismissed, and long-winded speeches are recited when the meaning would likely have been better conveyed through the company’s signature movement pieces and tableau.

Still, the power of the shows visuals and performances make the piece at least interesting to watch and indeed if you're a fan of both Greek myth and in your face physical theatre you could do no harm in seeking it out.

Reviews by Joseph McAulay

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The Blurb

***** ( **** ( **** (ThreeWeeks). Medusa is a monster who lives in a cave with only her sisters for company. Why are they there? This show explores the myth of Medusa and how she became what we believe her to be. A tale of persecution, jealousy and sexuality. Written by Ami Sayers, this season of work follows the successful premiere of her original work Sodom at the 2016 Fringe with Fourth Monkey.