Medea on Media epitomises the crazy, boundary-breaking spirit of the Fringe.
The narrative follows Medea, an outsider in a foreign land, as she is abandoned by her husband Jason (who owes his life to Medea) for another woman, the princess Glauce. Creon the King is wary of the notoriously dangerous Medea and, before Jason’s marriage to his daughter, decides to banish her and her two young children from the state. Left with nothing, Medea plots her brutal revenge.
In Medea on Media this story is translated into the information age, loaded with questions on how we make and consume contemporary media and the potential effects this might have on us. Each scene is filtered through the lens of a different media platform – a press conference, a televised studio debate and a role playing video game, to name but three – and each new form brings to bear a different ethical pressure on the tragic sequence of events unfolding through the performance. Everything in this production is designed to interrogate our systems of mediation. This is particularly effective, and sinister, in the televised studio debate between Medea and Jason. As the argument rages, television crew prompters urge the crowd to cheer and boo at different moments. Violence is never far beneath the surface of the action, and often breaks into the performance: this scene chillingly taps into the often-suppressed urge of audiences to witness tragedy, their complicity in it and how the experience of media can shape our emotional responses. At one point, almost immediately after Medea reveals her terrible plan, an audience member begins chanting ‘Fight, fight, fight!’ while others cheer wildly; the performers’ energy makes viewers forget the impending horror of the play.
All of this is carried out by a tremendous cast. The traditional Greek Chorus is cleverly updated to the twenty-first century, often assuming the role of those who facilitate the distribution of media, and the leads navigate the shifts in tempo with skill and ease. Jinsung Lee’s Creon displays excellent comic control in a well-choreographed exchange between himself and Medea, Sol Heo’s Glauce is full of swaggering royal sass, Myoungsub Kim is spot-on as the cringing Jason and Minsung Kim portrays the outrageous Aegeus with real flair (the meeting of Medea and Aegeus is an especially brilliant scene). However, it is Miok Kim as Medea who truly excels here. She is at once ferocious and broken, always the most powerful presence on the stage; hers is a masterful performance of this challenging role.
What results from this heady concoction is a dazzling assault on the mind and senses. Hyuntak Kim’s adaptation and direction is ingenious: Medea on Media epitomises the crazy, boundary-breaking spirit of the Fringe.