A killer night out
This article is from 2011.
Spend a whole night in the company of a murderer. See her history retold, eat with her, dance with her, bathe and clothe her, listen to her problems, understand them if you possibly can, and, ultimately, be party to her gruesome crime.
This is the package on offer at Zecora Ura’s Hotel Medea. It’s not a sleepover, it’s a waking dream in which the audience can simultaneously be part of the Medea myth, and see its elements in panorama – at once judging, empathising with, and fearing the heroine. Through three acts of participatory, multimedia, multi-lingual theatre, one of the Fringe’s most ambitious shows ever unfolds in spectacular style, creating a unique experience of total immersion.
The action shifts between three of Summerhall’s sparse, clinical rooms (the building was previously a veterinary school), adapted through simple details into a child’s bedroom, a Mediterranean square, or a CCTV control room. These movements, and some clever live video feeds from different parts of the building, encourage regular changes of perspective. For example, after witnessing the inner workings of a New Labour-style spin campaign to elect Medea’s husband Jason (of Golden Fleece fame) to the presidency, the focus changes back to Medea, tormented in her bedroom as she discovers Jason’s infidelity through clues on his mobile phone.
Given the level of complexity the execution is immaculate. Until the cast drop their characters for the 6am breakfast the performances are perfect in every exhausting detail. For six hours, the play is real life. Even the tea breaks in between ecstatic dancing sessions, bedtime stories and half-hours spent hiding in cupboards are part of the journey, and feel linked in to an unstoppable train of tragic events. The result is a rare and wonderful experience of total suspension of disbelief. As the play ends and the sun rises Medea reflects on the night’s activities – ‘Do you think we went a bit too far?’ – amid peels of cathartic laughter. Almost certainly the best theatrical production you will see on the Fringe this year.
Summerhall, 226 0000, 19 & 20, 25, 26 & 27 Aug, 11.45pm, £29.50 (£25).