Medea, the woman who refused to be scorned


A multifaceted masterpiece can be approached from many directions and Euripides Medea is no exception. This is a powerful drama played by a strong ensemble cast. 

In some respects this is experimental theater. The director and his cast have made some interesting innovations in the beginning and the end of the play. In some respects, an ancient, archaic play requires a temporary suspension of the disbelief; sometimes Euripides drama resembles opera: the characters are larger than life. 

Within the range of the ways the titular figure might be played, Tiana Shuntae Alexander chooses to play Medea in a Senecan way, as a strident, manic women verging on patent insanity. 

She is a full-featured, strong woman and she roves the stage with surprising grace like a lioness, seeking someone to devour. She threatens to intimidate the well built but somewhat passive Jason with her explosive energy, but some of her most chilling lies are spoken in a near whisper. 

Orlando Lewellyn, who played Jason, is appropriately dressed in a breastplate because he seems to need defense against Medea. In the last scenes when he hears the fate of his sons, his body language, the way he casually relaxes his erect sword when he hears the awful news, the way he disarms and demeans himself, is touching. When he begs to caress his children, when he mourns them on his knees facing the audience, he comes into his own and delivers a powerful performance of humbled, anguished shattered grief. 

His ironic performance and Medea’s embittered gloating over his shoulder form a dissonant harmony (the two of them broken and bonded like dysfunctional husband and wife); the play gels into a daring, unorthodox, but powerfully cathartic conclusion that glimpses into abysses of hate and loss so profound as to be appalling. 

Despite a few awkward intervals, the director Godwin and his cast have excelled expectations. This play is well worth seeing: this is a memorable performance.