Reviewed on Monday 9th November 2015
Having premiered in Sydney, Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks adaptation of Medea is receiving its UK premiere at the Gate Theatre. Euripides' masterpiece is known for delving into womanhood, but this production takes the spotlight off of Medea and, instead, shines it on to her children.
We see the goings-on from the children's point of view. The storyline is completely stripped back; set in their bedroom, we know the children's parents are downstairs arguing. Sarks' production is charming and endearing, Jasper and Leon are two ordinary modern day brothers who argue, play fight and love eachother dearly. The pace is mostly calm and steady, themes of death are cleverly interwoven throughout.
The play pinpoints childhood beautifully; the brothers amusingly discuss their mother and the complexities of love. On press night Jasper and Leon were played by Bobby Smalldridge and Keir Edkins-O’Brien (who alternate their roles with Samuel Menhinick and Bili Keogh). The majority of the piece is a full on two-hander which Smalldridge and Edkins-O’Brien took in their stride.
Both were on the ball throughout and gave remarkable performances, you can't help but grow fond of the brothers which makes the inevitable conclusion even more heartbreaking. Completing the cast is Emma Beattie who plays a convincingly unstable Medea.
It's common to see plays interpreted differently, but rare to see a piece completely turned on its head like this. Whilst pulling at the heartstrings, this production successfully tells an iconic story from an entirely new perspective. Running at just sixty minutes, Sarks' production is perfectly paced, adorably funny and performed with tragic truth.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
Medea runs at the Gate Theatre until 28th November 2015.
Please visit www.gatetheatre.co.uk for further information and tickets.
Photo Credit: Ikin Yum