Medea Electronica by Mella Faye (Pecho Mama)
The Pleasance (Short walk from Caledonian Road tube station) until 23rd Feb, Touring til March 23rd 2019
70 minutes, no interval, 14+
Veronica Stein, February 22nd, 2019
Medea is a familiar story, but nevertheless it remains shocking and emotionally impactful. Considering this, it doesn’t really seem to be much of a stretch to pair the Greek tragedy with electric rock music.
Pecho Mama, a dual rock band and theatre company, have set out to do some major genre bending in Medea Electronica. Staying firmly within the realm of concert, the only actor speaking on stage is Mella Faye (Medea), and all other dialogue is completed with voiceovers. Grounding the piece in theatre is the narrative of the music and the dialogue required to complete it. It’s an eclectic mix that I would say pays dividends.
For one thing, the music is evocative and entrancing. Highly emotional but also dreamlike, it provides a unique scoring to the traditional story- though it feels contemporary to this particular viewer, it is supposed to reference the 1980s setting they’ve placed the adaptation in.
Although the overall style is somewhat distancing- Medea always speaks through a microphone, it is not as interactive as a gig or concert would be, we never see the other characters- it is almost fitting for the story. There is something wonderfully symbolic about Medea activating her foot pedal to manipulate her voice, or record her wailing in order for it to underscore her future thoughts. It’s a phenomenal auditory and physical indication of her own enabling of her deterioration. Aside from this, it’s pretty nifty to watch.
Although the 1980s setting doesn’t seem to be necessary to the production, it renders awesome set design with period radio and televisions hanging amongst individual light bulbs. Mella Faye and Jack Weir’s lighting design begins as an aesthetically pleasing way to light the stage and ends with apocalyptic rigor, indeed the entirety of the design serves to craft this unique performance from its start as domestic drama through its tragedy .
Though Pecho Mama’s Medea Electronica may not be the most in depth production of Medea to ever exist, after all there is only one actor speaking dialogue in real time. What it offers is fresh, however, and thoughtful. Like, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, this performance makes the case for concert-based theatre: it brings out the emotional scope in a contemporary way. At a quick 70 minutes, Medea… offers something old in a brilliant new package.
Vocals, Synth and Medea: Mella Faye
Keys and Soundgarden: Alex Stanford
Electric Drums: Sam Cox
Jason East (Voice): Toby Park
Michael East (Voice): Reece Pockney
Peter East (Voice): Stanley Warbrick
Mrs Cranston (Voice): Emma Edwards
Simon Williams (Voice): George Williams
Daniel Glauce (Voice): Oliver Harrison
Sound Design: Simon Booth
Lighting Design: Mella Faye and Jack Weir
Costume: Emma Guard