Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; so quotes or paraphrases every production of Medea ever made. But Hell seemed quite tame as Big Shoes Theatre Company’s production dragged itself over the finishing line. The result was ultimately not recommendable.
When Jason finally enters holding a knife as the play reached its inevitable end, the feeling was one of relief.
The young company do try their best with their all-female version of Medea, but fall way short. Benefit of the doubt is given as much as possible in the case of a preview show, but ultimately this show has problems that go beyond early show jitters. The script is the main culprit, sounding stodgy and bland. ‘I want to die!’ shouts Medea offstage. Then she repeats it just in case we hadn’t realised the first time. Medea, Jason and Creon are all made to talk more like puppets than human beings. Georgina Graham-Williams occasionally managed to make her words sound more interesting than they were as she gave a fairly strong performance, but even she could not battle against the material she had to use. The adaptation reduces Medea’s deep internal trauma over her horrific plan into a few lines of mild indecision. She then comes to the conclusion that all men deserve to die, for no apparent reason. Well, alright then. I’ll just pop my clogs.
The music and choreography deserve praise. The choral odes were my favourite bit of the show, strongly sung by a chorus who were a little shakier with their acting. Francesca Millar’s composition is expertly judged, even though a little more variation would have been nice. Unfortunately, this is in itself was not enough to distract and relieve from the overly drawn-out scenes in between. When Jason finally enters holding a knife as the play reached its inevitable end, the feeling was one of relief. Why exactly Jason just lets go of the knife and allows Medea to stab their child in front of him with no attempt to stop her is never really explained. At 75 minutes in however, I wasn’t going to complain.
The masks and wings for the dragon costume towards the end were decently made and the decision to even include them is noteworthy, as most productions of Medea tend to omit them as they don’t know what to do with them. But it was too little too late. Medea drags through the afternoon and offers nothing new or even vaguely interesting about its source material, which ultimately proved to be beyond the young company. This company have had success in the past however, and hopefully they will bounce back.