Charlotte Rowland is impressed by strong performances in an interesting (if not entirely flawless) production of Medea
Medea is a play that has long demanded feminist analysis. Written by Euripides, it deals with a woman rejected by her husband, Jason, who has found somebody else and has conveniently forgotten the sacrifices his wife has made or the numerous significant ways she has helped him. Desperate with grief and rage, Medea ultimately manipulates the death of her husband’s new lover – and, most shockingly of all for many commentators, her children. Medea recognises that the only way to truly hurt Jason, as he has hurt her, is to destroy what he loves and values most, even if doing so is painful for her too.
A new version of Medea modernises the story, making some changes but keep the substance of the plot. Charlotte Rowland reviewed it for The F-Word, and noticed the many ways in which gender, sex and sexuality play important parts throughout the production:
One aspect that worked well in translating Medea’s frustration at her oppression into a modern setting was the interaction between her sexuality and relationship with Jason. Her husband has – it becomes apparent – essentially traded her in for a younger, “tighter” model in her early twenties (or at least this is the motivation that Medea feels most keenly). That she is wounded by this injustice is communicated in her dialogue with Jason. “You used to like my legs,” she reminds him, to which Jason replies matter-of-factly, “You had nice legs.” This is not an unfamiliar scenario and it is in this context, where she is powerless over the physical body on which society places so much of her worth, that the declaration, “I hate being a woman,” in her famous soliloquy makes sense.