Thursday, March 31, 2011

Medea, I just met a girl named Medea

King Creon asked me a question tonight. He looks me in the eye and says, “Maybe I’m not being tyrannical enough.” I hold his glance, nod and shrug my shoulders as if to say maybe not. This lady is bad news.

King Creon’s referring to Medea of course — the title character in director Stinespring’s current production at Home Resource  — a hip furniture showroom that turned into the setting of a stomach-churning tragedy.

Once again, Stinespring changed the code. Instead of being part of an audience watching the action through the proscenium frame, you're in the action. No division between spectator and spectacle: you're there. Call it unmediated theater. Stinespring didn't invent it. But it's a nice trick.

For the script, I assumed Stinespring found some public domain translation of Euripides' tragedy and cut it to the bone. Basically, Jason rejects Medea for a new wife. She kills their two sons and Jason's entire family as an act of revenge. The Styrofoam packing peanuts are gone; what's left is just the action line a clean electric circuit sparking from decision to deed. The actors are in modern dress, which removes another barrier. Or tricks you into removing your barriers. Modern dress works like a boxer's feint. You think: "Ah, these characters are wearing suits and ties and evening dresses. They're just like us" and you drop your guard.

But the ancients are not like us. This isn't my area of literary expertise but I agree with Gregory Bateson on this score. The inhabitants of this particular Greek tragedy (and most of them) are more like a brood of Charlie Mansons. Their minds are wired differently. 

The horror of the play isn't simply Medea's deed. It's Medea's world and the people who live here. Infanticide happens every day, but not for these cold reasons. (We have more in common with Shakespeare's Macbeth. Macbeth may be a monster, but he's a human monster. His motives and self-consciousness about those motives aren't that far from Tony Soprano.) Medea's not exactly human. But none of the characters are. Biologically, they're like us. But in their minds and souls, they're not. Medea and the rest are something Other. 

Kudos to the actors for some excellent performances. Kudos to Stinespring for excellent scene blocking and pace. The action flows naturally and draws you in to the play's unnatural, disturbing conclusion.

March 31
Home Resources
741 Central Ave # A, Sarasota,

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