Liz Lochhead’s slick modern take on a sadly relevant ancient tale is brought to life with intelligent staging and a ferociously powerful central performance from Adura Onashile. Directed by RSC alumnus Michael Boyd, this latest National Theatre of Scotland production of Medea is a fabulous success.
This is theatre-making with real substance
Onashile plays the titular protagonist, that figure from Greek mythology who saved Jason, leader of the Argonauts, was vital in his success in retrieving the fabled Golden Fleece, and who was betrayed by him when she made her way back to the hero’s home as his wife. The story picks up as that betrayal unfurls and takes flight on Medea’s unbridled pain and rage.
The well-worn story of a woman cast aside, and the tragic cost of the violent revenge she wreaks, is granted new life by both Lochhead’s script, which draws energy from the fantastic rhythms and power of Scots, and a string of strong performances. From Stephen McCole’s Kreon, who’s sharp suit is the thin cloak of civilisation draped over a brutish ruler, to Robert Jack’s Jason, a charming and smarmy gaslighter of the highest (or lowest) order, there are performances of note throughout. Special mention must be made for the Chorus, a ten-strong group of women who inject passion, wisdom and pathos into every scene they’re in, both universalising and elevating the shocking acts that Medea both suffers and perpetrates.
However, it is Onashile who holds the stage most commandingly. In a formidably towering performance she delivers rage, sorrow, sharp wits, doubt and pride. Whether expressed through razor sharp dialogue, wordless cries, or the subtle shift of her shoulders, the performance is never less than captivating.
Greek tragedy translated into contemporary language and performed on a stage and set which could loosely be described as Elizabethan-industrial? It’s an ambitious and alluring concept from the off, and one which is executed superbly by cast and crew. The staging of the show may guarantee a standing ovation every night, but there’s no doubt it is worth every applause. This is theatre-making with real substance.
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National Theatre of Scotland brings Liz Lochhead's acclaimed adaptation of the classical Greek tragedy to Edinburgh.
Liz Lochhead’s gripping retelling of Euripides’s ancient drama takes up residence in the International Festival’s home, The Hub.
This new production from the National Theatre of Scotland is rich with Liz Lochhead’s poetic, Scots-inflected language. Michael Boyd directs a Scottish company with award-winning actor Adura Onashile in the title role.
Medea has betrayed her family for the man she loves, taken brutal revenge on his enemies, married him, and fled with him to Corinth. Her husband Jason now abandons her to marry the King’s daughter, leaving Medea and their children dangerously exposed in a foreign land. Her terrifying response will shatter the most fundamental taboo.
Lochhead’s Medea is an unflinching interrogation of the human heart under intolerable pressure. First staged in Glasgow in 2000 to huge acclaim, it went on to tour internationally.
Former Makar, or National Poet of Scotland, Lochhead was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2015. Olivier Award-winner Michael Boyd was the first full-time Artistic Director of Glasgow’s Tron Theatre and Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company for ten years. Glasgow-based actor, writer and director Adura Onashile brings a visceral intensity to her portrayal of Medea.
A touch tour for this production is available before the 8pm performance on 24 August.
Medea will be staged with some of the action taking place amongst a standing audience. If you would prefer not to stand for the duration of the show, there are seating options available in the gallery, which can be booked online.
National Theatre of Scotland
Liz Lochhead Writer
Michael Boyd Director
Jaïrus Obayomi Assistant Director
Tom Piper Set & Costume Designer
Colin Grenfell Lighting Designer
Janice Parker Movement Director
James Jones Composer & Musical Director
Jean Sangster Voice Director
Josh Robins Sound Designer
Laura Donnelly Casting Director
Vanessa Coffey Intimacy Coordinator
Janet Lawon Fight Director
Adura Onashile Medea
Robert Jack Jason
Stephen McCole Kreon
Alana Jackson Glauke
Anne Lacey Nurse
Adam Robertson Manservant