Review: Medea, Written in Rage, The Place


“Maman est avec vous
Maman est avec vous 
Pour toujours…”

Nothing becomes Medea (or at least this version of her) as much as her entry into the world. Into a liminal space shrouded in smoke, summoned by a clarion call from the ether, an unknowable shape emerges. Obscured by lush swathes of fabric, movement governed by improbably high platforms, this figure casts extraordinary shadows (stunning lighting work from Chahine Yavroyan) until they arrive centre stage to finally deliver their story.

And though Euripides’ enduring classic may be familiar, it’s not likely one has heard it told quite like this. Medea, Written in Rage was reimagined by the Haitian-French Jean-René Lemoine and has been translated and adapted here by Neil Bartlett, to be performed by the Frenchman François Testory. A dancer and singer of some considerable renown, he submerges us into a queered-up, highly-politicised sonic experiment of a piece which is, at times, hugely arresting. 


Though still rooted in Greek mythology, the beauty in this Medea is how she fucks with our perceptions – of gender, of victimhood, of immigration, of sexual agency, of the patriarchy itself. The dramatic golden silk (by corsetier Mr Pearl) of her gown coils around her like the history of the legendary women she invokes; the live sound work and vocal sampling (by Phil Von) elevates the tale into her own version of epic, elemental storytelling that cannot be denied.

For by queering the pitch (as it were) in her giving her her own voice, so vibrantly told by Testory, we gain a new perspective on the vengeance she wreaks on those who have wronged her. Shaped by the damage she wrought on herself to secure Jason, and the damage she wrought on herself to keep Jason, the repercussions of her colonisation and abandonment reverberate with real resonance as an indictment of Western behaviours, of male behaviours. An undeniably intense experience.

Running time: 80 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Manuel Vason
Booking until 7th June, then touring

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