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Corn Exchange - Medea

11th February 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Greeks and their drama techniques

Medea, at The Corn Exchange, on Wednesday, February 11

Company:Collisions was formed in 1999 to create ensemble work in movement and visual theatre and their latest production of Medea at The Corn Exchange embraced this artform with discipline and precision.

Claire Raftery's stark white set with atmospheric lighting by Jules Deering created an open canvas background which the company filled with excellent a cappella singing and beautifully choreographed movement.

Director Tanushka Marah had created a stillness and a controlled discipline from the cast that initially made for compelling theatre but as the play progressed it became somewhat tedious and somehow inhibited the emotion of the story.

Written by Euripides in 431BC, Medea is the story of the great sorceresses of the ancient world.

This epic play tells part of the legend, from her marriage to Jason of Argonauts fame, to her fleeing a bloodbath in Corinth.

Medea first falls for Jason when he comes to Colchis for the Golden Fleece. She helps him take it and flees the island with him.

The couple settle in Corinth and have two children. However, Jason falls for Creusa, the daughter of King Creon. He leaves Medea and they marry.

In a jealous rage, Medea vows to break up their union and asks to present the princess with a gift. The ceremonial robe she dedicates to her is poisoned - it sticks to Creusa's skin and burns her alive.

To spite Jason further and to prevent anybody from taking revenge, she goes on to murder the two children she'd had with her ex-husband and flees with their bodies on a golden chariot belonging to her grandfather, Helios the sun god.

Denise Evans gave a strong performance as the evocative, powerful and manipulating Medea, with Duncan Foster not quite hitting the mark as Jason, Creon and Ageus. Perhaps there were too many parts to play convincingly.

Luan Blake and Gina Kawecka completed the effective hard-working Greek chorus.

This was a production with many visually-impressive moments, using classical Greek theatre techniques, but for me the rigorous style of the piece became a straitjacket that got in the way of the emotion and understanding. Pity.