Medea (National Theatre) review

The National Theatre has never staged a production of ‘Medea’ before, and this version with minimalist set and modern dress is a short and snappy ninety minutes – quite a relief after my recent run of 3+ hour shows.

Euripides wrote the original play in 431 BC, and this new production is presented in a version by Ben Power, and directed by Carrie Cracknell.  It focuses on the tragic force of fate which drives the central character (played by Helen McCrory) to commit the ultimate sin of filicide, murdering her two small sons to gain revenge of their father, Jason, who has abandoned her to take a new wife, the daughter of the King. 

Although some of the cast may be a little underpowered, especially Michaela Coel as the Nurse (I doubt her voice can reach the top tier of the Olivier), McCrory is on rip-roaring form as she plans her revenge while being so duplicitous in oozing charm to her ex-husband, prostrating herself before the King who plans to send her into exile, or playing the loving mother to her TV-watching, gadget-playing boys.

The chorus, led by Midsomer Murders actress Jane Wymark, build up the tension with their ticks and twitches leading into wild dancing, while of the three main male roles, Martin Turner is an imperious Kreon, Danny Sapani a curiously detached Jason, and Dominic Rowan an underused Aegeus. 

Although the wedding sequences, seen through glass walls in the top of the set, are well-done, it is the closing moments you will remember – the off-screen screams of the boys as their mother approaches with a knife, Jason’s sense of loss as he realises his sons have been snapped away, and Medea’s final and literal shouldering of blame, heartbreaking as she eventually only achieves in destroying herself and all she holds dear.  It’s in this sequence where McCrory reaches the pinnacle of this performance – I saw this play in 1992 with Diana Rigg and didn’t think it could be topped, but this final scene touched and appalled me in a way few performances have.

We have two emotional powerhouses going on in London at the moment, with McCrory’s Medea and Richard Armitage’s John Proctor in The Crucible.  I highly recommend you try and see both.

About Louise Penn

Writer, reviewer, fan. View all posts by Louise Penn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Loud Alien Noize

Revealing the True Origins of Silence

Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies

Blog titling at its best

Emily Baycroft

Currently a final year English student at the University of Cambridge. Producing Intern for Fuel Theatre July-October 2016. Aspiring Arts Administrator/Theatre Producer, blogging about my projects (mostly).

MTAS

West End Reviews | West End Challenges | Exclusive West End News

A Red Lip And A Nude Shoe

Dior Dreams On A Kmart Budget

is there room for me to sew?

Quilting, Reading and the Movies

Jaime Rebanal's Film Thoughts

Cinema - moving around life one film at a time.

The Case for Jeanette and Nelson

"Whaddya gonna do? I love her. I think she loves me." -Nelson Eddy on the Jack Parr Show, 1960

STARDUST AND SHADOWS

Opinions on Classic Hollywood , B Movies, Grindhouse, SF film , Classic Horror, Film Noir, Books, and related subjects by Canadian film guy TERRY SHERWOOD. (This site is not affiliated with author Charles Foster and his book Stardust and Shadows.)

The Wonderful World of Cinema

This blog is all about cinema, movies and stars of every decades. It's wonderful!

Movie classics

Thoughts on older movies, especially those from the 1930s to 1950s.

Hiss and Tell

Featuring Gryff, the angry diabetic cat, and the humans who serve him

TESSA BARRIE'S LOST BLOGS

Random Blogger from Jersey, Channel Islands, UK. Not Noo Jersey, USA. Expect the unexpected. Life's too short to be niche.

[insert title here]

just one of many things i'm still trying to figure out

buchanblog

A trip down Memorex lane

The Phantom Frame

Information about the creative works of Gareth Preston

West End Blog

Bringing you independent, honest, experienced reviews of current theatre shows. We believe theatre is something truly magical and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Archive Television Musings

"To waste one second of one's life is a betrayal of one's self! I wonder what's on television?"

The Actor's Advocate

In defence of acting

Loud Alien Noize

Revealing the True Origins of Silence

Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies

Blog titling at its best

Emily Baycroft

Currently a final year English student at the University of Cambridge. Producing Intern for Fuel Theatre July-October 2016. Aspiring Arts Administrator/Theatre Producer, blogging about my projects (mostly).

MTAS

West End Reviews | West End Challenges | Exclusive West End News

A Red Lip And A Nude Shoe

Dior Dreams On A Kmart Budget

is there room for me to sew?

Quilting, Reading and the Movies

Jaime Rebanal's Film Thoughts

Cinema - moving around life one film at a time.

The Case for Jeanette and Nelson

"Whaddya gonna do? I love her. I think she loves me." -Nelson Eddy on the Jack Parr Show, 1960

STARDUST AND SHADOWS

Opinions on Classic Hollywood , B Movies, Grindhouse, SF film , Classic Horror, Film Noir, Books, and related subjects by Canadian film guy TERRY SHERWOOD. (This site is not affiliated with author Charles Foster and his book Stardust and Shadows.)

The Wonderful World of Cinema

This blog is all about cinema, movies and stars of every decades. It's wonderful!

Movie classics

Thoughts on older movies, especially those from the 1930s to 1950s.

Hiss and Tell

Featuring Gryff, the angry diabetic cat, and the humans who serve him

TESSA BARRIE'S LOST BLOGS

Random Blogger from Jersey, Channel Islands, UK. Not Noo Jersey, USA. Expect the unexpected. Life's too short to be niche.

[insert title here]

just one of many things i'm still trying to figure out

buchanblog

A trip down Memorex lane

The Phantom Frame

Information about the creative works of Gareth Preston

West End Blog

Bringing you independent, honest, experienced reviews of current theatre shows. We believe theatre is something truly magical and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Archive Television Musings

"To waste one second of one's life is a betrayal of one's self! I wonder what's on television?"

The Actor's Advocate

In defence of acting

%d bloggers like this: