Presented in association with Belvoir St. Theatre company from Sydney, the GATE Theatre have put on an exceptional version on the classic Greek tragedy, Medea. Told from the perspective of Medea’s two sons, this new play is a new perspective on Euripides’ harrowing tale of infanticide and showcases the talents of two extraordinary children – rare in theatre for such weighty matter and moreover they are the leads.
Jasper and Leon, Samuel Menhinick and Bili Keogh respectively, are holed up in their bedroom having been locked in by their mother. The play opens with them lying ‘pretend’ dead on the floor, a grim shadow of their impending doom. With toys strewn over the room the boys awake and carry out a series of Nerf gun battles, simulating various violent deaths. This is followed by various other games to pass the time. They sing songs, feed their fish, name animals, whilst also discussing how they feel about the possibility of leaving their mother to move into a mansion with their father and his new “friend”.
Being familiar with the story makes this perspective even more shocking. Throughout we laugh at the games and japes of the two young sons, whilst constantly being aware of the fate that awaits them. Emma Beattie’s Medea, enters occasionally to tell them to tidy up. She has the look of a very unstable women, who has been crying her eyes out over a bottle of red wine. It is frightening to watch when she tries to be kind to her boys and then snaps at them.
There is a lovely scene when she leaves the boys to tidy up. The boys then start humming Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube waltz together. Something about the innocence of Jasper, wetting his bed in fear, plays beautifully alongside his teenage brother’s slightly more mature outlook on their situation. Both boys were tremendous in this production.
This was a beautifully structured play, that allowed the young actors to create a realistic story, with humour and horror. Emma Beattie closes the play fantastically with a powerful monologue. Well done to Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks for this unique adaptation at the Gate. Get down to it before it closes on 30th November.
Dramatic Highlight of the play – The boys’ stargazing moment interrupted by their mother’s entrance… With two green drinks…