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Review: Facing Medea at La Mama Theatre

By Natalie Hamman

François Cervantes' Facing Medea is a modern interpretation of the ancient Greek tragedy "Medea.” The original Medea was written and first produced in 431 BC by Euripides and is based upon the myth of Jason and Medea."

“Facing Medea” follows the old tale but in a modern era. It comes to life by the voices of three women, Iris Gaillard, Annie Sofia Thorold and Carmelina Di Guglielmo. These women bare likeness to ‘the fates’, sharing a monologue of memories and telling the story as if they were there.Their stories are tattered in some places, jumbled and broken, each building upon what the other has said. Together they unravel the story of Medea - a woman followed by death, whose love is like a storm.

The three women recount the story of how Medea met her lover, and the man who was destined to be her destruction. As Medea and her lover flee her home country, we discover how the pair tried to outrun their fates.Medea is a woman of great power, a witch or sorceress to some. At one with the earth and spirit of her country, per passion is like a wildfire and her ferocity is legendary. He is the heir to a wealthy and powerful family. With education and sophistication, he is on a mission to her country to conquer her people and bring back the wealth he needs in order to claim his birthright.

Their fates were sealed at their very first meeting.

Medea is a challenging performance which explores the pain and suffering between the two’s relationship. And, as time progresses, the betrayal that led to Medea’s insanity.

The performance takes place on a blank white stage, reminiscent of a lightbox. The purposeful lack of distraction forces the audience to visualize the story as it unfolds. The stage becomes submerged in haze. Along with subtle lighting, the consequence is effective at transporting the viewer to another place.

Facing Medea features only a handful of props which against the spare backdrop, stick out like a sore thumb. These carefully chosen artefacts become powerful imagery and assist in the story telling.

The performance by Gaillard, Thorold and Di Guglielmo is more reminiscent of a monologue than a traditional modern play. While the broken story telling is intriguing, for those unfamiliar with the classic tale, it may be difficult to follow.

While the overall performance by the three women is engaging, the enactment of the three characters tended to present more as wooden, as opposed to solemn. Despite this, the passion and raw emotion demonstrated in the second half of the performance makes up for it and it impossible to come away from it unaffected.

Facing Medea also beautifully depicts of the two opposing sides of what it is to be human.

One- the raw, powerful, and almost animalistic side of ourselves, versus the other- educated, refined and enlightened side, which battles inside us every day. Facing Medea exquisitely depicts the seduction of each side.

Facing Medea is a performance focused around what the audience feels as opposed to what it learns. It is compelling and thought provoking but may be dreary to those who are not already familiar with the tale.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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