Medea

Liz Lochhead
National Theatre of Scotland
The Hub

Adura Onashile as Medea Credit: Jessica Shurte

Michael Boyd’s riveting visceral production of Liz Lochhead’s ferocious Media, performed in Scots dialect, is a triumph.

Tom Piper’s towering, rust-coloured thrust set immerses the audience, who stand on either side looking up to the stage. High above the stage, a vast variety of percussion instruments are played by composer James Jones, adding a foreboding dimension to the play.

Medea’s children’s nurse (Anne Lacey) opens the production with a dire warning of the turmoil and distress in the family.

Emerging from the audience, the Greek chorus of women climb on to the stage and speak as one demanding justice for Medea and commentating on the action as it develops.

Adura Onashile is simply outstanding as Medea, with a commanding stage presence. She demands attention and gives a tour de force performance.

She has been abandoned by her husband Jason, impressively played by Robert Jack. With the permission of the controlling King Kreole (Stephen McCole), the ambitious Jason is determined to marry his innocent daughter, Princess Glauke (Alana Jackson).

Medea’s smouldering hatred burns with a passion for her three children’s future. She has exhausted her patience and turns to planning her bloody revenge. However, it is so horrible as to be almost unbelievable.

Even the children are, unbeknown to them, complicit in this plot, delivering a poisoned golden crown and shawl to the unsuspecting Glauke.

Servant Adam Robertson reports back to Medea with the gruesome details of the wedding banquet, but even that doesn’t prepare you for what is about to happen.

Jason’s final confrontation with Medea is agonisingly painful and her primeval, anguished cry at the end, as we realise that she has carried out her threat, brought many tears.

This is an unmissable production.

Reviewer: Robin Strapp