Adapted from Euripides by Peter McGarry
24:7 Theatre Festival, Pure at The Printworks, Manchester
The programme note explains that Eyewitness, whose main focus is child protection work, rarely ventures into "mainstream" theatre. Mainstream theatre is clearly missing out. Peter McGarry's adaptation of Euripides' tragedy sees two players cursed forever to play and replay the murder by Medea of her two sons by Jason, and addresses with glittering obliqueness questions as varied and wide-reaching as modern warfare, child abuse, gender conditioning and the purpose of theatre itself. Carly Tarett plays a mesmerisingly modern yet age-old Medea, supported by Laura Sharp's sympathetic but firm Chorus.
Ok, so the script could do with some refinement: direct and repeated references to 24/7, modern Manchester and Iraq add nothing and detract from the dramatic tension and otherwise subtlety of the piece, and the archaic language could be modified in places where gratuitous "thees" and "thous" and oddly prolific repetition of the word "such" seem thrown in only to remind us of the play's age (can't these be lost once the "modern English" version of the tragedy is underway?). That said, for the dazzling depth of its interpretation, the scope of its ambition and McGarry's own seamless direction which effortlessly combines modern naturalism with the highly dramatic style of Greek tragedy, Medea is far and away the most ambitious and strongest production at 24/7 this year.
Reviewer: Louise Hill