archive
links
essays

Medea

When English playwright and poet William Congreve penned the lines "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned" (The Mourning Bride, 1697), he could just as well have been writing the epitaph for Medea, Euripides' famous tragedy, based on the complex mythology of the title character.

Karen Slack as Medea
Karen Slack as Medea
Photo: Rachel D. Graham
But as we see in this deftly staged production by The Edge Theater Company, directed by Warren Sherrill, there is a lot more to the story than Medea's heinous acts, beginning with Karen Slack's nuanced interpretation of Medea, part sarcastic, part heart-broken, yet wholly tragic.

The simple three-tiered platform (Justin Lane) keeps the focus on the characters and their compelling commentary on sexism, power, and the fickleness of the gods.

Medea's life is upended when Jason (Drew Horwitz), of Argonauts fame and the father of her children, announces his intention to marry the daughter of Creon, the king (a circumspect Rick Yaconis).

Karen Slack as Medea and Drew Horwitz as Jason
Karen Slack as Medea
and Drew Horwitz as Jason
Photo: Rachel D. Graham
Credit Euripides with setting up a classic conversation on male chauvinism 2,447 years ago. Horwitz' well-tempered approach to Jason, claiming that his marriage to the attractive princess is in the interests of Medea and their children, comes off, at first face, as persuasive—certainly a prince could take care of whomever he chooses; but Medea will have none of it, recalling their initial agreement that, in return for her helping him gain the Golden Fleece (with her otherworldly powers), Jason would marry her. Medea excoriates Jason, then later offers an effective, but false apology, to carry out her plans for revenge. Horwitz' breakdown, when Jason's life and dreams lie shattered, is a picture of utter devastation.

Karen Slack as Medea and Lauren Bahlman, Kelly Uhlenhopp, and Maggy Stacy as Women of Corinth
Karen Slack as Medea
and Lauren Bahlman,
Kelly Uhlenhopp, and Maggy Stacy
as Women of Corinth
Photo: Rachel D. Graham
As with all famous tragedies, we know what is going to happen, but that never diminishes the power of the tale and the catharsis. Part of our ability to cope with the horrid events is the empathetic foreshadowing offered by the chorus, in this case the Women of Corinth (Lauren Bahlman, Maggy Stacy, and Kelly Uhlenhopp) as well as the Nurse (C. Kelly Leo), whose visceral emotional responses enable the players and the audience to share the burden of the crippling events.

The chorus, like us, sees the story through the lens of mere mortals, while Medea's pedigree, according to Greek legend, is of another, darker and more powerful, persuasion. Regardless, we must accept this as a cautionary tale, a warning, that we must rise above revenge for others' moral failures.

Karen Slack as Medea and Mark Collins as Aegeus
Karen Slack as Medea
and Mark Collins as Aegeus
Photo: Rachel D. Graham
Euripides dangles a brief glimmer of hope with the visit of Aegeus, King of Athens (Mark Collins), who is flattered by Medea's interest, albeit as an escape route. Collins' wide-eyed naiveté brings much needed comic relief before the forces of doom drive events inexorably to the end. As the Messenger (Drew Hirschboek) describes the offstage horror of events at the palace, much to Medea's delight, we cannot help but think that Medea will get hers. Hirschboek captivates us with his well-told tale.

As the Women of Corinth swoon and Medea wails over her bloody deeds, we see the essence of this scene—however melodramatic it may seem in its ancient form (with the characters being archetypal, not personal, and the occasional appearances of gods with superpowers and immortality)—repeated daily in theatres of war worldwide, and wonder why Greek drama is so seldom reproduced, while we deceive ourselves into thinking that contemporary work reveals new and unique insights into human behavior. The Greeks had it down over 2,500 years ago; after all, didn't they invent the words "drama" and "psyche"?

The Edge Theatre Company's presentation of Medea runs through February 14th. For tickets: www.theedgetheater.com or by calling 303-232-0363.

Bob Bows



  Current Reviews | Home | Webmaster