Written for FEST

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Never has this statement rung truer for a character than Medea.

Granddaughter of the sun god Helios, she’s abandoned by Jason for a princess and banished by a heartless king. So Medea takes events into her own bloody hands, invoking horrible atrocities that include, most famously, infanticide. In Greek mythology and Euripides’ play, Medea’s is a story of fiery passion and in this production, the somewhat static design sees a giant orb throbbing threateningly in the background, illuminating an otherwise surreal, Giorgio de Chirico-like setting.

Sadly, it is the most potent thing in a show that takes Stella Duffy’s snappy version and delivers it in a way that would make cardboard look animated. Director Sarah Chew must have had a plan here, but what it is exactly remains a mystery. For a melodramatic story of betrayal, it feels very bland and the actors—apart from a very pained Nadira Janikova, who plays the eponymous anti-heroine—sound flat. There’s no inflection in the delivery of their lines and, as they stand on stage facing the audience, they remind you of blinking rabbits in headlights.

This is a shame as Duffy’s version places its full focus on the idea of women as accessories to male ambition, crying out for a “time for women to sing the truths of men.” It’s a compelling perspective but Chew’s production has taken all the sting out of a valid and powerful contemporary take on an age old tale of treachery.

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