There is something so timeless about watching a Greek tragedy on stage that resonates with the present. Author Euripides had his pulse on the human condition way before contemporary writers knew what it was. Just when you think the story is going one way he switches it up and presents another unknown human emotion that no one has thought of before. It’s that powerful gift in writing that makes the story be told many times and it never gets tired. Before the show begins, three crazed looking patients roam around the hospital. There are two men and a woman. Aegeus (R. Benito Cardenas), Medea’s ex-husband, plays with a ball of yarn. Nicholas Hope, has the deadly job of playing the Messenger, just stares out into space with a somber look and while wearing a tight fitted strait jacket. There are paintings of various scenes of Medea hung on the wall: The Maiden, The poisonous Mother; Medea as a scorned woman, and Jason’s lament. Shaina Vorspan is a young girl treated as a case watch study by an overwhelmed nurse dynamite Sara Marffino). The nurse explains to the audience about Medea’s sadness and depression over Jason. A social worker (Jill Gerhke) brings Medea’s boys Mermeros (Ari Skye) and Pheres (Fionn James) for a visit which does lift her spirits up at the moment. Jason (a very handsome Max Horner) has the gift of impeccable bad timing as he tells his current wife, Medea, that he has moved on to King Creon’s daughter Glauce, the princess. Not too far away are the Greek Chorus, (Karen Richter, Lauren Wells and Shaina Vorspan) who cling to Medea and soothe her.
After ten to fifteen minutes, Medea leaves her room. Disheveled but speaks eloquently about her case. She is pissed! She’s a soldier, clever, educated and cunning. Medea lets out a blood curdling scream. She dreams of ways to seek vengeance. Jason comes in and she rips into him. She reminds him that if it wasn’t for her, he would have been dead a long time ago. And he repays her generosity with this sickening betrayal. He flips the script and reminds her that it was he who helped himself asking Eros and Aphrodite for immediate assistance. Jason is very political, strategic and blames Medea for her messing up.
Cardenas is hysterical as the prisoner Aegeus. He visits his ex-wife to tell her that he went to the oracle of the gods and begged for child. He wants to be pregnant. To demonstrate his fantastic powers, he wraps a purple robe around his neck like Superman. Medea puts a purple and black headband on his forehead for the finishing touch. He stands like a super hero arms akimbo and talks to Medea as if she were his therapist. It’s obvious their friendship post divorce hasn’t hurt the relationship.
This Medea is not to be confused with the one that actor/director/writer Tyler Perry made famous. The similarities are that both are headstrong women, love their family and when they act right are passionate. She’s a woman on a mission and will see it through. Euripides Medea contemplates murdering the princess and her boys to retaliate against Jason’s betrayal. The Greek chorus tells her no. Jason tries to convince her that marrying Creon’s daughter is a good thing and beneficial. Medea makes him believe she’s all for the plan and will prepare the children for the new change.
Medea gives the boys as a gift to the princess. The messenger describes the princess’s death to Medea who writhes on the floor with pleasure from the gods. The argument between Jason and Medea is moving and powerful. Each outshouting each other to prove that their point is the right one. He makes a plea to Zeus for help, but it’s obviously too late.
Adalgiza Chemountd played a vulnerable, heartless revenge seeking anti-heroine. Her ability to play a wronged woman who simultaneously can perform infanticide makes a great topic for the psychology books. Yes, what she did was heinous but it’s also understandable. She gave so much of herself to her man and then he takes it as if it’s his right. Jason is a piece of work. Max Horner who plays him does an excellent work in producing this playboy with the eye on a much greater prize, is excellent. His good looks and charming demeanor makes you believe that he does deserve all the good coming to him. Why the hell not? Sara Marffino is wonderful as the nurse. She’s overwhelmed, needs a break from the asylum and understands Medea’s plight. She does sympathize but doesn’t let it get in the way of her inflexible job.
This is Travis Terry’s directorial debut and he outdid himself. He brought out the grit, harshness and scattered gentle exposure from the cast. The boys are adorable, Jason is arrogant and Medea is seen as an evil spirit but she does have cracks in her callous behavior that soon breaks down. It’s a difficult thing to do, wanting to provide sympathy for a heinous act of a mother murdering her children for revenge. Chemountd does an excellent and memorable job playing such a complex character. Cheers to Terry for showing all facets of Medea and the people who surrounds her. Excellent first time. Can’t wait to see the next work Terry does.
Medea runs Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 6p.m. until Sunday, August 29 located at The Knightsbridge Theatre located at 1944 Riverside Drive, in Los Angeles, For ticket information call (323) 667-0955 or reserve online at www.knightsbridgetheatre.com