by Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks after Euripides.
Gate Theatre above The Prince Albert Pub 11 Pembridge Road Notting Hill
W11 3HQ To 28 November 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm (Mondays sold out) Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7229 0706.
Review: Carole Woddis 9 November.
Children’s hour of growing intensity.
Two Medeas closely allied in time – the Almeida’s last month with Kate Fleetwood in Rachel Cusk’s über-feminist version, now the Australian Kate Mulvany with director Anne-Louise Sarks in another radical re-appraisal. Before that last year, we had Helen McCrory in Ben Power’s updated version at the National Theatre.
Can you have too much Medea? Each have had their moments. But Mulvany/Sarks’ version, originally produced by Sydney’s excellent Belvoir Street Theatre (who brought Simon Stone’s Wild Duck last year to the Barbican) takes a wholly original approach in that the focus falls directly on the children.
What, they have asked, happened to the children while Medea and Jason were undergoing their vicious wrangle over love, jealousy and the children? Their answer is, they play.
Amy Jane Cook’s boys’ bedroom is a pig-sty, cluttered with normal children’s mess. At the Gate, we sit in the midst of it. We’re all in this together. No escape. The door is locked. No sound emanates from the other side. Just our eyes fixed on Jasper (meaning `precious stone’) and Leon (`brave warrior), passing the time with word games, gun-fights, sword-fights, quarrels over a treasured pullover (Dad’s) squirreled away by Leon.
So natural and accomplished the playing by the boys – on press night, Bobby Smalldridge (Jasper) and Keir Edkins-O’Brien (Leon) – there’s almost nothing out of the ordinary, except for that locked door. And Mum’s occasional appearance to announce they’re moving, without her, to a mansion with Dad’s new friend; later with a present she’s prepared for the friend. Will the boys write her a note? And finally to prepare them to join Dad in clean shirt and trousers.
All the time, of course, we know the fate that awaits them, building (apart from easy laughs at the boys’ jokes) a dreadful sense of unease. When the moment comes, it is quiet and intensely loving. Medea has killed the things she loves most in the world with no recriminations, no hurling of abuse. All that happens off-stage. On-stage we are left with love and a horror that leaves more questions hanging in the air than answers.
Jasper Bobby Smallridge/Samuel Menhinick.
Leon: Keir Edkins-O-Brien/Bill Keogh.
Medea: Emma Beattie.
Director: Anne-Louise Sarks.
Designer: Amy Jane Cook.
Lighting: Joshua Pharo.
Sound: Adrienne Quartly.
Assistant director: Bella Loudon.
Assistant designer: Lizzy Leech.
Medea was first produced by Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney at the Downstairs Theatre on 13 October 2012.
First performance at the Gate Theatre Notting Hill, London 2 November 2015.