Contemporary take on deconstructed Medea : a review

Hadley, Bree J. (2010) Contemporary take on deconstructed Medea : a review. The Australian, 23(Nov).

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THEATRE: The New Dead: Medea Material. By Heiner Muller. Stella Electrika in association with La Boite Theatre Company, Brisbane, November 19.

THERE has been a lot of intensity in independent theatre in Brisbane during the past year, as companies, production houses and producers have begun building new programs and platforms to support an expansion of pathways within the local theatre ecology.

Audiences have been exposed to works signalling the diversity of what Brisbane theatre makers want to see on stage, from productions of new local and international pieces to new devised works, and the results of residencies and development programs.

La Boite Theatre Company closes its inaugural indie season with a work that places it at the contemporary, experimental end of the spectrum. The New Dead: Medea Material is emerging director Kat Henry's interpretation of Heiner Muller's 1981 text Despoiled Shore Medea Material Landscape with Argonauts.

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Muller is known for his radical adaptations of historical dramas, from the Greeks to Shakespeare, and for deconstructed texts in which the characters - in this case, Medea - violently reject the familial, cultural and political roles society has laid out for them.

Muller's combination of deconstructed characters, disconnected poetic language and constant references to aspects of popular culture and the Cold War politics he sought to abjure make his texts challenging to realise. The poetry entices but the density, together with the increasing distance of the Cold War politics in the texts, leaves contemporary directors with clear decisions to make about how to adapt these open texts.

In The New Dead: Medea Material, Henry works with some interesting imagery and conceptual territory. Lucinda Shaw as Medea, Guy Webster as Jason and Kimie Tsukakoshi as King Creon's daughter Glauce, the woman for whom Jason forsakes his wife Medea, each reference different aspects of contemporary culture.

Medea is a bitter, drunken, satin-gowned diva with bite; Jason - first seen lounging in front of the television with a beer in an image reminiscent of Sarah Kane's in-yer-face characterisation of Hippolytus in Phaedra's Love - has something of the rock star about him; and Glauce is a roller-skating, karaoke-singing, pole-dancing young temptress.

The production is given a contemporary tone, dominated by Medea's twisted love and loss, rather than by any commentary on her circumstances.

Its strength is the aesthetic Henry creates, supported by live electro-pop music, a band stage that stands as a metaphor for Jason's sea voyage, and multimedia that inserts images of the story unfolding beyond these characters' speeches as sorts of subconscious flashes.

While Tsukakoshi is engaging throughout, there are moments when Shaw and Webster's performances - particularly in the songs - are diminished by a lack of clarity.

The result is a piece that, while slightly lacking in its realisation at times, undoubtedly flags Henry's facility as an emerging director and what she wants to bring to the Brisbane theatre scene.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 39923
Item Type: Review
Refereed: No
Keywords: Heiner Muller, Medea Material
ISSN: 1038-8761
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Drama
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Nationwide News Pty. Ltd.
Deposited On: 06 Feb 2011 22:05
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2011 14:53

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