Medea Review: Hardcore Theater That Takes No Prisoners

The central performance area is a circular platform with no theatrical paraphernalia. Ben Daniels walks in slow motion around its perimeter, donning a different jacket to play four characters: Jason, Creon, a guardian, and Aegeus.

After a slow start, Marion Bailey heats up as the nurse, and her terrifying description of Medea’s revenge chills the blood. The chorus of three women in the audience does not detract from the vortex of power that is Okonedo.

She dominates the stage as Jason’s sorceress and ‘barbarian’ wife, who is exchanged for a younger and more politically advantaged model: Creon’s daughter.

Proud, defiant, fueled by injustice, she is both terrifying and empathetic. Since Diana Rigg’s performance in 1992, I have not so easily understood Medea’s psychopathy.

Expressing her rage, Okonedo brings humor to her lines before horror kicks in and she sacrifices her beloved children on the altar of revenge.

Female powerlessness in a patriarchal society and the feeling that the best way to fight evil is to be more evil comes across with icy clarity.

Daniels makes a good fist of Jason’s finally-killed swagger, while his Aegeus is a triumphantly human interpretation. This is hardcore theater that takes no prisoners.

  • Medea, Soho Place Theater until April 22, Tickets: 0330 333 5962

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