- Gareth K Vile
- 17 August 2018
This article is from 2018.
How to update a classical tragedy
Step one: strip back the story to the absolute basics. A man betrays a woman who takes excessive revenge. Lend Medea some sympathy but do not flinch from her extremity and make a visual reference to Pasolini's wonderful film at the end.
Step two: use the update to justify the atmosphere of the soundtrack which is performed live. The 1980s provide context enough to justify the electro beats and synth wailing. Strip away fancy classical references and understand how the new era explains the couple's behaviour.
Step three: since it is about Medea, reduce the other characters to prerecorded voices that allow a rapid contextualisation and conjure both domestic contentment and an increasingly oppressive collapse of same. And make sure Medea is a powerful actor and singer who can do stentorian vocals and symbolic physical theatre bits.
Step four: problematise Jason's betrayal of her by making him gay and avaricious. Remember: it is set in the 1980s when greed was good and gay was closeted.
Step five: don't pull any punches and leave the morality hanging. Leave the audience to work out whether this is feminism or homophobia. Sometimes it is good not to spell it out.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 19 Aug, 6.30pm, £11.50 (£10.50).