MEDEA IN JERUSALEM
Written by ROGER KIRBY
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
August 5 – September 4, 2004
Directed by STEVEN LITTLE
Scenic and Costume Design NICOLAI HART-HANSEN
Composer and Musical Director JANE WATKINS
Lighting Design THOM WEAVER
Sound Design MICHAEL GRAETZER
Stage Manager JEFF BENISH
Press Representation OPR/ORIGLIO PUBLIC RELATIONS
Sean Haberle – Jason
O’Malley – Miller Lide
Sister – Jennifer McCabe
Brother – Ariel Shafir
Daughter – Alexis Underwood
Son – Robert Wands
Rebecca Wisocky - Medea
Medea is back, and this time her rage is fueled by indiscretions and the onus of an inter-denominational marriage and the local politics that attach to it. This MEDEA IN JERUSALEM, a Christian-Muslim Arab among Jews, is a modern woman with timely revenge schemes. Her Jason has neither fleece nor Argonauts, but he does leave Medea in spite of her assistance (here, not magical), and increasingly for her inherent lack of political cache.
Sometimes stagy, sometimes governed by ambient audio projections of the violent, daily news, yet mostly treading that fine line between storytelling and social criticism, MEDEA IN JERUSALEM is a flawed yet thoughtful bundle of ideas. Most compelling, perhaps, is the notion of matricide, centrally thematic in the Medea myth, and the modern mirror to parents bearing children for the sole purpose of creating a generation of suicide warriors. If it were not so prevalent in our own current events, and if it had not been such a central element in the events of September 11, 2001, an audience could easily confine Medea to Greco-Roman mythological antiquity. Shockingly, when set in modern circumstances, Medea transforms from epic caution of yore to not-so-unexpected events of today. We are begged to ask – When did this happen?
MEDEA IN JERUSALEM has no grand answers, but it alerts us to reality, and does demand that we question the definitive baseline of right and wrong. Ultimately, as in any presentation of Medea I have seen, I see symbolic potency in her actions, but never find justification for them. I suppose that is the point, but often, as in the case here, it is largely because the scope of the actions portrayed appear to be beyond the actors’ ability to digest, and therefore convey effectively. So, Ms. Wisocky, while a striking, wide-eyed vision as Medea, is never the storm front of rage she should be. Mr. Haberle’s Jason is too reserved and bland to render either disgust or sympathy from us. As counterpoints, Jason’s brother and Medea’s sister, Ariel Shafir and Jennifer McCabe respectively, function as the voices of the masses, adding focus to the activity, and narrating events that have preceded the present or happened offstage. The production is enhanced by a functionally simple, clean set and nice costumes, both by Nicolai Hart-Hansen, so the cast at least have suitable surroundings whether or not their actions fall in synch with plot developments.
So what does one say about Medea? Here, she hates the other woman, the politics and the religion she is surrounded by. Would most women, given that frame of mind, kill their children to make a statement? Absolutely not! In a modern look at myth, however, this MEDEA IN JERUSALEM remains loyal to the central themes of the source material. Scorned then, scorned now, Medea remains a chilling literary creation.
- Kessa De Santis -