14 November 2013

Medea at The Rose

I would not (yet) say that The Rose is one of my favourite theatres but it is one of my nearest and I am trying to be supportive of it by going to all the shows that I find remotely tempting. Often these are the touring shows as they bring something a little different to the theatre.

And so it was with Medea.

At its core it was a Greek Tragedy. I did not know her story before but I knew roughly what to expect from it.

A key selling point for me was the promise of "aerial dance" and this was hinted at in the poster. The last aerial show that I saw at the Rose, Not Until We Are Lost, was excellent.

I made a late decision to go and it had sold well so I was left with a difficult choice of seats in a theatre whose unusual layout makes choosing seats a thoughtful task at the best of times. I prefer a seat in the front row of the stalls proper (Row A) but the only seats available were at the sides where they looked towards the seats on the other side rather than the stage. I plumbed instead for a seat in the front row of the Pit Seated (Row CC) which was more central.

I had a good view of the stage though I did have to lean somewhat to the left to see it fully.

Medea was a story of politics and family with the family often getting in the way of the politics. We learnt that Medea had had to leave her family to be with Jason (he of the Argonauts fame) and she had then killed Jason's uncle in an attempt to give Jason the throne.

That plan failed and put Jason and Medea into exile where Jason was planning to marry the King's daughter to further his political career.

Medea did not take well to Jason's plan and the ending was not happy; though you could argue that Medea got what she wanted out of it. The problem was that she was driven mad by the jealousy and what she wanted was not good.

The production relied heavily on Medea and Tamsin Shasha conveyed the emotional turmoil that she went through with much aplomb. She was well supported by a small cast.

There was less aerial dancing that I expected and at times the use of ropes threatened to distract from the play as the actors hooked and unhooked themselves from their harnesses while also delivering their lines. When it worked it worked well. The story of Medea is one of conflicting emotions and this was given a physical manifestation with Medea literally being pulled from one side of the stage to the other or hanging helpless in her confusion.

I also liked the way that the use of ropes gave height to the production.

Medea was a good story told with flair and imagination. This was my sort of theatre and I hope that The Rose continues to support shows like this.

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