Expectation has been high surrounding the opening of Medea at Bristol Old Vic. The traditional tale by Euripides redesigned into a modern retelling by Chino Odimba, with a translation by Robin Robertson, presents us with a story where the two worlds collide and merge.
Directed by George Mann this is, at times, a bewildering production. The tale of Medea who is wronged by her husband and on whom she exacts a chilling revenge is played alongside the tale of Maddy a modern woman who gave up her life for an army husband and children who finds her life and livelihood jeopardised by her adulterous husband. The all female cast work with huge commitment and there are moments of visual brilliance, however the continual use of chant and discordant tunes to utilise the “chorus” quickly becomes predictable and relentless. The story takes a huge amount of time to unravel due to the use of this device whilst the lack of variation in the script makes it heavy going.
The versatile sparse set is effective the final staircase is a glorious moment; whilst costumes are purposely neutral allowing a seamless transition for multi role playing. Akiya Henry (Medea / Maddy) is a force in the central role; growing in stature and status throughout. The company of Michelle Fox, Eleanor Jackson, Kezrena James, Stephanie Levi- John and Jessica Temple work tirelessly throughout. Perhaps as a piece of new writing there will be a revisit to the script which will bring it the depth and impact that this epic story needs.
*** – 3 Stars