The show transfers after already impressing in Amsterdam and is performed in Dutch by the avant-garde Toneelgroep theatre company, with English surtitles. Modern Dutch is certainly very different to ancient Greek, yet the language barrier should at least give a sense of the unsettling strangeness of the original story that never quite leaves any of its interpretations.
London audiences should be primed for unsettling theatre from Stone: the Australian director’s adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s Yerma at the Young Vic, with an incandescent Billie Piper in the title role, was widely considered the best (and most harrowing) play of 2016. Medea offers a different take on the theme of problematic motherhood.
Leading lady Marieke Heebink who won the Theo d’Or (a Dutch acting award) for her performance, will reprise the role of a woman driven to emotional extremes by unforgiving patriarchies.
The setting is, like other recent Medeas, distinctly modern: Medea becomes Anna, a once-successful doctor who has to watch her husband Lucas fall for a younger woman. In a neat parallel with the original, Lucas’s love interest is Clara, the daughter of his boss, just as in the original Jason arranges to marry Glauce, daughter of Creon, king of Corinth.
In a more thematic kind of translation, Stone examines the heights of Greek tragic emotion with reference to the sensationalism of modern media. As well as integrating live video into the staging, his narrative also takes influence from the media treatment of Debora Green, an American physician who killed her estranged husband and two of her three children in 1995.
The runaway success of Scandi noir in recent years has made television audiences accustomed to subtitles, so there's no reason for foreign-language theatre to not attain a similarly high profile. If nothing else, the show should attest to the continuing relevance of a pan-European theatre scene post-Brexit.
|Where||Barbican Theatre, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, E2CY 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
06 Mar 19 – 09 Mar 19, 7:45 PM – 9:05 PM
|Price||£16 - £40|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|