Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Review - Medea, National Theatre

Four Stars

EURIPIDES' Medea has to be one of the most scary and terrifying of all characters in Greek tragedy.
But she is also one of the most complex. This is a woman who has already killed her own brother and left her father because of her intense and obsessive love for her husband Jason.
But after he discards her for another woman she sets about exacting revenge in the most brutal and horrible way - that of killing her own children.
And a new production now on at the National Theatre's Olivier stage is gripping from the outset.
Pulling no punches it doesn't miss a beat thanks to a tight script by Ben Power and a fantastic musical score by Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp which adds to the heavy atmosphere which lingers about the stage.
There is also clever choreography with the chorus of 13 Corinthian woman displaying nervous tics and judders in time with the music as Medea's torment reaches intensity.
Even the set has a sense of the horrors about to come with shabby furniture and a creepy wooded garden area at the back of the home Medea shares with her two young sons and the nurse.
Helen McCrory is excellent as Medea. She brilliantly conveys both her vulnerability and her cold steeliness, her rage at being humiliated and abused by her errant husband and yet equally appalled at the thoughts of killing her own sons.
She paces the stage, shaking, full of nervous energy, smoking, raging and railing at the gods. She is both rational and irrational, one minute caring greatly for her children, kissing and stroking them tenderly and in the next plotting their demise.
It is a fantastic production and the supporting cast is superb - in particular Michaela Coel as the Nurse - but it is Helen McCrory who steals the show with her fabulous performance.

Medea is on at the National Theatre until September 4. Tickets from £15. Visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 020 7452 3000. Medea will be broadcast in cinemas by NT Live on September 4.

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