16/06/2016 - 09/07/2016
THIS IS MEDEA, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT
“Cast aside all your preconceptions of what tragedy is in the theatre. This is something new.” – Sydney Morning Herald
Watch two brothers play out the final hour of their lives in this contemporary update of Euripides’ classic text Medea, which radically shifts perspective to that of the previously unheard children of Medea. Frequently retold and reimagined throughout history, this Medea is unlike any other. Running at Auckland Live’s Herald Theatre from 16 June – 9 July, Silo Theatre’s Medea will be led by 9-14 year old boys, offering a truly unique theatrical experience.
Onstage, an ordinary bedroom. Two brothers play, bicker and wonder, under the watchful gaze of goldfish Cornelius, Hector the teddy bear and the carpet of stars on their bedroom ceiling. Offstage rages the fateful duel that has been retold for thousands of years. Medea’s back is against the wall and she’s about to draw her two sons into the story.
This New Zealand premiere of Medea marks the first time Silo Theatre has worked with children. But this is no halfhearted attempt at taking on the challenge of youth – in this production the kids are on stage for the full 75 minutes, driving the story and contributing their own ideas to the script.
Drawing on her recent role as youth acting coach for Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople (which she also stars in as Ricky’s Case Manager) andBoy; alongside her vast theatre experience (Director of Hui, Have Car Will Travel, The Mercy Seat and the Te Reo Māori version of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida which performed at the Globe Theatre in London), 2012 Arts Foundation Laureate, Rachel House will direct these children in material rarely given to actors of their age.
This adaptation of Medea, penned by Australian theatre-makers Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks, was devised with the original young cast who Anne-Louise says, “gave us the precious gift of seeing again.” The play originated at Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre in 2012 before having a London season in 2015 at Gate Theatre. It was met with widespread critical acclaim and received multiple awards, including the 2012 Sydney Theatre Award for Best New Australian Work and the 2013 Australian Writers Guild Award for Best Stage Play.
Kate Mulvany is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter in addition to being a high profile stage and screen actor. Anne-Louise Sarks works professionally as an actor, director and dramaturg and won Best Direction at the 2012 Sydney Theatre Awards for Medea. Sarks says the play still has much to tell us: ‘There are too many recent stories of parents taking the lives of their own children for us to dismiss its relevance.’
“Deeply affecting and profoundly disquieting…MEDEA will linger after the final blow.”–The Daily Telegraph
16 JUNE – 09 JULY
at Herald Theatre, Auckland Live
For more information and bookings, visit silotheatre.co.nz
Reworking turns classic tale of vengeance on its head
Review by Paul Simei-Barton 20th Jun 2016
The enduring relevance of Greek tragedy is persuasively demonstrated in Euripides’ Medea, which shockingly suggests murderous violations of the sacred bond between a mother and child cannot be explained away as madness or evil.
The play asks us to consider the potential for unspeakable violence lies within each of us and the unsettling power of this idea is heightened in Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks’ brilliant reworking of the classic. [More]
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Poignant and well-executed
Review by Dione Joseph 18th Jun 2016
Silo’s production of Medea by Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks (after Euripides) is utterly beautiful.
We enter the world of Euripides’ epic tragedy through the bright disarray of a bedroom belonging to two young boys. There is a basketball beneath a desk, plastic bullets strewn across the room, a small aquarium, plenty of soft toys and every sign of the boyish chaos you would expect if you had the temerity to pick your way across the room.
This is the world of Jasper and Leon, the sons of our tragic heroine Medea. They are locked in their room while mum and dad sort out “marriage stuff” and the fact that there’s a “new friend” in their father’s life. This grown-up conversation, Leon tells his little brother, is quite likely to take “at least an hour”.
The work settles into itself and the repartee flows easily between the two boys who, amidst firing bullets at each other, practice their sword fighting, play word games and of course freely comment on the adults in their world.
Jasper, young, wide-eyed and innocent, is played with irresistible charm by Joe Valentine while his older brother Leon (Levi Kereama) captures just the right amount of protectiveness and maturity.
It’s a bright bright world with vivid colours and John Verryt’s set design is absolutely perfect. The room is decked with glow-in-the-dark stars and the very cosmos is brought into the bedroom as the two boys feel themselves floating across time and space. Philip Dexter’s lighting design is the perfect complement and together they present a world that is immediate in its proximity yet effectively timeless.
Although at times it is easy to get lost amidst the familiar echoes of domestic drama, this production is named after Medea. The mixture of quiet anxiety and excitement rises and when Medea blows into their world, distraught yet restrained, we begin to see the order in this children’s kingdom begin to topple.
Bronwyn Bradley carries much of the impending disaster in her short, often choked statements, willing her boys to look forward to their future yet deeply passionate about her undying love. She epitomises the maternal and is reluctant for her boys to see anything except her love: a passion that cloaks both her words and ultimately, her actions.
The irony only grows as she returns periodically. Dressed as a modern woman of status, Medea is holding it all together: well dressed, her hair in a neat bun, still wearing jewellery and high heels. There is little indication of the horror that is to come.
This portrayal of the desperate housewife is quite brilliant and Rachel House’s direction is almost flawless – particularly with the young boys, where her touch is light, flexible and leaves room for their energy and personality to work with the script.
If anything it is only towards the end that the impact of this epic tragedy plateaus. While this is not the climax of Euripides’ play, nor is it fair that we should expect anything even resembling the original cathartic release, it just doesn’t quite punch through in its closing moments.
There is so much detail to celebrate and recognise in the production’s highly naturalistic style that it relegates the original narrative to an aesthetic narrative backdrop. Consequently, the weight of the tragedy from which this production is inspired simply isn’t there.
Nevertheless, this is quite likely to be one of the most poignant and well-executed works that you will see this year.
During a game with his brother Leon insists on including the mammoth as a legitimate animal: “They were here. They existed. Their bones are still being dug up.” Rather than any climax it this declaration that is so powerful. This story of Medea’s sons reminds us of the victims in tragedies that we still see repeated far too often in our world today but it is important that we remember: They existed.
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