The award-winning Queensland performance makers Shock Therapy Productions breathe new life into Greek Tragedy, 'Medea’.
Former Barbarian Princess Medea's world begins to unravel as she juggles the pressures of court politics, family, and discrimination – pressures still relevant as ever in a contemporary society. It only takes her learning that her husband – leader of the Argonauts – is planning to leave her to marry the Greek Princess of Corinth, for her love and passion to turn into blind rage.
A shocking and calculated revenge is plotted, as Medea fights to take back control in a society ruled by men.
Shock Therapy Productions, based on the Gold Coast, bring their signature touch to 'Medea' as a company known for their delivery of high-quality, relevant, multidisciplinary performance. Past shows include 'The Pillowman', 'Welcome To Sameville' and 'The Forwards'.
Here, we chat to Helen Cassidy, who plays Medea, ahead of the show at Redland Performing Arts Centre. Tell us a bit about ‘Medea’.
'Medea' is one of the most famous ancient Greek plays. It was written by Euripides and first performed in 431 BC! So it’s certainly got some staying power. One of the reasons for this enduring appeal is the timeless nature of the tragedy and the gripping complexity of the titular role. Now more specifically the character of Medea, who is she?
Medea was a barbarian princess, enchantress and granddaughter of the sun god Helios prior to meeting and falling in love with Jason, a famous and powerful warrior and leader of The Argonauts. In the process of hooking up with Jason she helped him steal the Golden Fleece, killed a bunch of people, betrayed her father, family and homeland and moved with him to Corinth where they now have two children together. When you meet her at the start of the play you quickly discover that Jason has recently left her for another woman and Medea and her kids are about to be exiled from Corinth. She is utterly heartbroken, desperate, filled with rage and a lust for revenge. What are you looking forward to about playing this role?
This is quite simply one of the greatest roles in the classical canon. It is a deeply complex role, traversing a huge emotional range and is so much fun to play and explore. Going on that emotional journey every night is both exhausting and invigorating. What do you love most about this production?
This is an excellent adaptation of the story and a nimble, stripped back production with a cast of three (the amazing Sam Foster and Hayden Jones share all the supporting characters). Shock Therapy’s adaptation gives a laser focus to the story and allows Medea’s motivations and actions to sit front and centre.
What has been the biggest challenge so far in being a part of it?
The biggest challenge has definitely been learning the script itself! This is a remount of an existing Shock Therapy production (Medea was previously played by the wonderful Ellen Bailey and Ngoc Phan) so that meant our rehearsal time was reduced. So I had a lot of homework to get the lines under my belt. Do you think there are themes within ‘Medea’ that still resonate today? What are they?
Absolutely. Thanks to the bold choices of Euripides this remains a deeply vital piece of writing. He wrote the character Medea as a feminist, who both articulates and resists the injustices that women were facing (and continue to face). It is also painfully tragic that the central drama of Medea’s decision to kill her children is as relevant and shocking today as it was 2,500 years ago. The stats are that we lose a child to fillicide every fortnight in Australia, I believe examining the psyche and reasons behind these acts is difficult but necessary. How are you hoping audiences respond to the work?
I hope the audience are both entertained and challenged by this story. It is a psychological thriller so they just need to strap in for the ride! Shock Therapy will be putting their ’signature touch’ on the show. Without giving too much away, what can audiences expect?
Yes, there will certainly be some touches that really add to the tone and texture of the story; perhaps some music and physicality which will create a really rich theatrical experience. 'Medea' plays Redland Performing Arts Centre (Queensland) 18-19 May.