Drama Medea merely mediocre

Medea merely mediocre

While the efforts of the production must not go unrecognised, we found it slightly difficult to enjoy the play beyond what it was – a contemporary adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy.

Performers in Medea on 9 July 2015 at the National Arts Festival. The fresh take on Euripides’ classic tragedy aims to tell Medea’s story in a more current context, primarily intended to be relevant to women of today. (Photo: CuePix/ Amanda Horsfield)

Performers in Medea on 9 July 2015 at the National Arts Festival. The fresh take on Euripides’ classic tragedy aims to tell Medea’s story in a more current context, primarily intended to be relevant to women of today. (Photo: CuePix/ Amanda Horsfield)

Set in a more relatable context, the isiXhosa and English play had some engaging imagery that helped elevate the play to a level that kept our attention.

To begin with the energy of the cast seemed a bit low, but eventually the drama picked up to a pace where the audience began to want to see where this tragedy would go and how the adaptation would be translated for them in 2015.

The eerie stare of who we thought resembled a sangoma managed to intrigue us to the point of wanting to know more about each of the separate female characters, however the play, much like the original, had a strong focus on the main character Medea and unfortunately did not lend itself to exploring the roles of other women in Medea’s life.

Perhaps we were expecting too much in terms of individual character developments, but even at a push the housemaid character (who would be the messenger in the original play) spent just about the entirety of the play in one corner of the stage before her actual lines in the final scene. We found this unjustifiable as her positioning didn’t bring any extra elements to the production.

The play drew on some aspects of culture in its use of isiXhosa translations at distinct places. Unbeknownst to non-Xhosa speakers in the audience, this deliberately touches on the patriarchal heteronormativity found within Xhosa culture.

The part which made the play beguiling was the use of raw meat (what looked like liver) in one of the final scenes to illustrate Medea’s final act in killing her unborn son.

Without the imagery described above to grasp and hold our attention, this rendition of Medea would be completely flat. It is sadly not worth a watch.

Thembilihle Ngcai and Amanda Murimba

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