Medea, a foreigner and a lowly woman in the eyes of her people, has been abandoned by her husband, the hero Jason, for a new family. Because of this, she is at risk of exile. The story is that of her final day at her home in Corinth. She summons kings and men to her door to ask for sanctuary. But as the injustices pile up on Medea’s shoulders, she begins to exact terrible revenge on those who have done her wrong. Even on the innocent.
Over the centuries, we have lost so many Greek plays and texts, by fire, flood and forgetfulness. The playwright Tom Stoppard once wrote, “Can you bear it? All the lost plays of the Athenians... How can we sleep for grief ?” Yet of all the plays we still possess, Medea by Euripides is surely the most powerful.
Helen McCrory takes the title role. She is no stranger to great female roles— Rosalind in As You Like It, Olivia in Twelfth Night, and most recently for the National, the central figure of the sensational Last of the Haussmans (2012) where she was confronted with being a mother, daughter and sister all at once. McCrory, married to Homeland star Damian Lewis, made her name as the mother of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, and her perfectly realised portrayal of Cherie Blair in The Queen.
Greek plays depend on a good translation and this production has been given to Ben Power. Described as the National’s ‘secret weapon’, Power is the genius behind the building of The Shed, the National’s temporary red stage outside its front doors. A writer and a dramaturg, he has worked with renowned theatre companies Complicite and Headlong along with a role as associate director for the National.
An hour and a half of tension that feels more like 15 minutes. Helen McCrory’s Medea is superb. Goldfrapp’ s score counter-balances Ben Power’s minimalist translation. Carrie Cracknell convincingly shapes this timeless tragedy into the ultimate divorce play. A must see this summer.
|What||Medea, The National Theatre|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
04 Jul 14 – 14 Sep 14, 7:30 PM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here to book at the National Theatre|