Of all the Greek tragedies I think it is Medea that sticks with us the most as modern audiences. The distance of thousands of years can make many of the central concerns of the other plays seem antiquated or alien, but the idea at the centre of Medea is one so universal and visceral that we feel it as painfully as the Athenians must have when it was first performed. That idea being the horror of the crimes a mother can commit against her children when pushed. It is this central concern that animates new company Pecho Mama’s debut fringe show Medea Electronica. A genre-bending piece of concert theatre that transports the ancient Greek myth of a woman who, abandoned by her husband, seeks a horrific form of revenge in 1980s England. This is perhaps the most stunning and unique adaptation of the classic tale I have ever seen.
A stunning kaleidoscopic journey into hell itself.
This one-woman show focusses on Mella Fayne's Medea who, accompanied by two musicians on the drums and Keyboard, sings and acts the story out for us. The rest of the characters appear only as voices played through the sound system, ghostly projections of people we never see yet their interactions with Fayne give them such a heavy weight and presence in the story, it was as if they were on stage performing with her. It is a testament to Fayne’s absolutely stunning performance that she is able to hold the audience in a breathless trance for nearly an hour as she performs and sings almost non-stop. She walks the perfect tightrope in her characterisation of Medea, never letting her descend into a monstrous caricature, yet never excusing her from the truly terrible actions she performs for revenge.
This is aided by a sublime score and sound design. The electronic music moved from almost transcendent bliss to a hellish demonic cacophony as required, and I was frequently left with goosebumps at the beauty of the songs. The sound was complemented by a gorgeous lighting design. It paints the stage in multi-coloured hues reminiscent of expressionist paintings, and at its best moments creates the feeling that we in the audience are witnessing a stunning kaleidoscopic journey into hell itself.
It is at these moments that the production is able to weave together a state of heightened emotion that leaves your spine tingling and eyes filling with tears. This is not a production for the faint of heart, and it does not shy away from the horror of Medea's actions, but Pecho Mama have crafted a play that taps deep into something primal within you and is simply awe-inspiring to see. It is theatre at its most intense, frightening, visceral and, at times, painful to watch. I loved every single minute of it.
If you think you can handle it, clear your schedule and make time for Medea Electronica. It is a production that I guarantee you won’t soon forget.