Of all creatures that have breath and sensation, we women are the most unfortunate.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the press preview for the National Theatre's new production of Medea last night, a much anticipated re-staging of Euripides' heart-wrenching Greek tragedy which combines the acting talents of Helen McCrory with the musical genius of a certain Miss Alison Goldfrapp.
Being a huge enthusiast of Greek literature and Goldfrapp's brilliantly unique talent, I was excited to see what this new production would bring to this wretched tale of love, deceit and infanticide. Mostly, I was highly impressed by the power of Carrie Cracknell's direction, which breathed a new lease of life into a well worn Classical text.
Hailed by many as a proto-feminist play, Euripides' work is undoubtedly moving, exploring the en-gendered power struggles of his day. At times I felt the actors failed to fully connect with the polemics of the play - perhaps feeling that the dramatics of the original script did not fit within a more modern setting and realistic acting style. However, with current news stories still eulogising on the morals of the modern women - 'magaluf girl' perhaps the most prominent heroine of our latest cautionary tale - I couldnt help but feel the world's were not so disparate. Though the context of Euripides' text and Cracknell's Medea is outwardly so different, much of the heroines monologues were still devastatingly close to the bone; motherhood, sexuality, feminine worth, all are still common political battle grounds, with the female body as an object of trade between sides. At times, I felt the actors could have connected with the intemporality of these issues more emotively, conveying the sheer desperation of women who lose control over their own female form.
One aspect where the play successfully utilised its modern setting was in the brilliant Contemporary choreography of Lucy Guerin. The chorus of the play, made up entirely of women from Medea's new city, danced themselves into a bewitching frenzy as the play progressed, exemplifying the destructive attraction of Euripedes' cruel heroine, as well his beautifully crafted play as a whole.
The National Theatre's new production of Medea is sure to enthral a whole new audience, breathing life into a play which still hums with energy thousands of years on. I would certainly recommend a trip to watch it; followed by a trip to where ever Medea got that fabulous silk jumpsuit...