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Medea - Headlong


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#1 mallardo

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 08:20 AM

This is a touring production that I caught in Richmond, a rewriting of Euripides by Mike Bartlett who also directed.

I went along because of Rachael Stirling in the title role and she did not disappoint.  It was fascinating watching her play a wild and crazy, foul-mouthed bitch (as everyone keeps calling her), the polar opposite of everything I've seen her do before.  But. alas, her rants were not enough to sustain a drama that really doesn't translate well to contemporary middle-class England.  I didn't believe it for a second.

The set, the exterior and interior of Medea's house, looked to me like a video game - The Sims, came to mind - with its bright colours and carefully delineated areas. Was that intentional?  I was never quite sure what Bartlett was going for.  Or why he was going for it.  Brava to Ms Stirling though - what a wonderful actress she is.
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#2 Honoured Guest

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 10:31 AM

For me, it created the intended tension throughout. The characters and their situation seemed utterly true.

#3 dude-1981

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 04:14 PM

I saw this, You Can Still Make A Killing, 55 Days and The River within the space of 3 days.

I thought this was the weakest.  Don't get my wrong, I thought it was good, I was always engaged, the acting was fine, but I admired it more than I loved it.

Good touring set as well.
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#4 fringefan

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 05:16 AM

My four-within-three-days (more Wed matinees, please, theatres:  don't all go for Thurs!) were Medea, Love's Comedy, 55 Days and Steel Pier.  I'd never seen any Greek tragedy before, whether traditionally-staged or a modern reinterpretation like this, and though it was well-attended and well-received, it didn't engage or impress me.  I would never have known that it wasn't just some new, thin, soapy play.  Still, at least I have satisfied my curiosity and it was good to see so many teenagers in the audience (presumably school parties), though they did tend to make a lot of emoting noises, something I'd not encountered before.

#5 PaulR

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 08:07 AM

I caught this at Watford earlier in the tour and I thoroughly enjoyed it, having no knowledge of the original. In fact it prompted me to download a translation to try and work out who the bricklayer was supposed to be and what part he played in the whole story. I'm afraid I'm none the wiser. Perhaps someone a bit brighter than me who has seen other versions can shine some light.

So far I have enjoyed everything that I have seen from Headlong  and I'm looking forward to seeing The Effect next year. Also they are producing a version of The Seagull to tour next year.

http://headlong.co.u...roduction_id=36

#6 fringefan

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 09:42 AM

I'm seeing The Effect soon and think that sounds a safer bet!

#7 PaulR

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 09:58 AM

"Still, at least I have satisfied my curiosity and it was good to see so many teenagers in the audience (presumably school parties), though they did tend to make a lot of emoting noises, something I'd not encountered before"

There were a lot of school kids at the show in Watford. Made as chuckle with all 'ahhhs' with the scenes with the little lad.

#8 Honoured Guest

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:08 PM

View PostPaulR, on 23 November 2012 - 08:07 AM, said:

to try and work out who the bricklayer was supposed to be and what part he played in the whole story.

The workman was a big part of the bubbling tension for me, always present and watching and at one point there was a strong suggestion of a bond with Medea, that he completely understands her, and it's just a step on from that to wonder if he knows how she will act. Sometimes at points in Greek plays, the chorus can see exactly what's going on, unlike the characters who are so caught up in their own events, and the chorus directly warns the characters to act differently, to no avail. With this workman, my mind was racing with possibilities as to whether he would at some point intervene to actively encourage Medea and also whether he was perhaps a benevolent or malevolent force, or simply a highly perceptive observer - like a lot of workmen.

#9 PaulR

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 02:31 PM

View PostHonoured Guest, on 23 November 2012 - 01:08 PM, said:



The workman was a big part of the bubbling tension for me, always present and watching and at one point there was a strong suggestion of a bond with Medea, that he completely understands her, and it's just a step on from that to wonder if he knows how she will act. Sometimes at points in Greek plays, the chorus can see exactly what's going on, unlike the characters who are so caught up in their own events, and the chorus directly warns the characters to act differently, to no avail. With this workman, my mind was racing with possibilities as to whether he would at some point intervene to actively encourage Medea and also whether he was perhaps a benevolent or malevolent force, or simply a highly perceptive observer - like a lot of workmen.

Thanks for that. That makes sense having read the translation.

#10 Nicholas

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 12:29 AM

I saw this on Saturday and to my mind it was fine, but no more.  All the actors were very good, but I had issues with a script that I felt did neither Bartlett nor Euripides many favours.  If I had a pound for every "black widow" metaphor I'd read or heard I'd be a very rich man, and by now it's just become a cliché.  Playing Aladdin Sane to signify a moment of madness was a tad on the nose.  To my mind the child, by the end, wasn't just a bargaining chip but one neither party much cared for.  In this version enough was done in the killing of the bride that the child felt superfluous.  And the ending felt neither Euripidean nor satisfactory.  But despite all that it seemed to hold together in a way I can't quite say - it was more than the sum of its parts, certainly.  And everyone's certainly right about the tension - although I felt they blew it at the end (without spoiling anything, the sun god's golden chariot led by dragons, as in the end of Euripides, wouldn't have been as melodramatic), it ended up tense as anything.




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