Saturday, September 18, 2010

Theatre: Medea

As part of the Absolut Fringe festival, the Euripides play Medea is running in the Samuel Beckett Theatre in TCD.

On entering the theatre, the theatre-goer immedately encounters the most striking aspect of the production, the stage setting. The stage is filled with it: a two-storey house, open to the audience as if it were a giant doll's house. As well as being impressive in and of itself, this design is a clever piece of stagecraft. The actors can move from room to room without the play being interrupted by a change of set; this is particularly useful during the more dramatic moments later in the play. The open house also allows the audience to see peripheral action - there are many times when characters who might in another production move off-stage can, in this production, remain visible to the audience, getting on with background actions while the main action is elsewhere.

The play itself is good but doesn't quite match the superb stage setting. Medea is a woman wronged, and the play is the story of her anger and vengeance. It's hard to sympathise with any of the major characters: Medea, Jason (of the Argonauts) and Creon can all be criticised. I also found the actors' accents a little distracting at times, and the dialogue itself somewhat uneven in its style.

It's only fair to point out that this production has received some very positive reviews, and I'm not discouraging anyone from seeing it: it is good; it just didn't live up to my high expectations.

Marks out of five: ***.

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