By Tatum Stafford
This performance is not for the faint-hearted. Those familiar with the original version of Medea may walk in to Studio Underground a little more prepared than I was – but nonetheless, this performance packs a definite punch.
This adaptation is largely in the hands of two young men, Jasper and Leon, who interact, play and fight with each other in their bedroom whilst their mother, Medea, intermittently appears and disappears from the room, swiftly locking the door behind her each time.
This performance as a whole is quite gut-wrenching. The brilliant chemistry between the two boys (performed by Jalen Hewitt and Jesse Vakatini on opening night) sets the scene for a mischievously fun storyline, whereas Medea (Alexandria Steffensen)’s occasional presence leaves a haunting confusion in the boy’s (and the audience’s) minds.
The talent in this play is undeniable. The performance is carried with gusto and a consistently energetic tempo by the characters of Jasper and Leon – who are performed by Lachlan Ives and Jack Molloy respectively on alternating performance dates. Steffensen’s Medea is a triumph; as she immediately captures attention regardless of the character’s dynamic within each scene (though she is generally commanding or guiding the boys as their sole carer).
The play’s all-female writing team, comprised of co-writers Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks, have done a marvellous job of adapting this classic, haunting tale. The production seeks to re-frame the plight of Medea through her two sons, who in the original work, are quite absent figures.
Sally Richardson’s direction of this play is exquisite. This play is by no means an easy feat tonally, as it deals with a variety of complex issues – however, Richardson’s nuanced direction and staging of this stirring adaptation thrusts all three characters in the midst of chaos; and in doing so, she expresses each character’s inner desires and challenges with gusto.
This ultimately tragic re-imagination of this classic tale seeks to unify its audience in sympathy, and also, regret for the actions of a troubled mother. It is an extremely moving piece of theatre, and I am very proud to see a work of its calibre staged in the metropolitan of Perth.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.