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Shining Lights - Medea

21st to 22nd July 2009.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Young bloods of the stage

Shining Lights set Greek tragedy in the aftermath of the Second World War

Shining Lights: Medea, at New Greenham Arts, on Tuesday, July 21 and Wednesday, July 22

As we entered the auditorium, two young men in RAF uniforms stood in silent sentinel each side of a blood red door and the women of the house went about their business. It was intriguing and set the scene for things to come.

Medea is the sequel to the well-known Golden Fleece saga and, always up for a big challenge, Shining Lights youth theatre played the action against the aftermath of the Second World War, instead of the ancient Persian war, as originally written by Euripides.

This had the effect of making the characters more accessible and using the 'women of the house" - washer-women and the like - to portray the traditional Greek chorus, was ingenious and effective.

Peter Watt's sure and excellent direction and creativity was evident throughout, and the period update was inventive. However, I found the classical Greek references in the dialogue and '40-style costumes and setting conflicting and jarring.

Occasionally, some of the dialogue lacked strength in delivery, but the quality of the cast ensured high standards of acting throughout.

Jessica Welch's Medea was a tour de force, for such a young actress, powerfully evoking the emotions of passion, jealousy, love, and dreadful vengeance - the themes of the play.

Daryl Hurst's eloquent and intense portrayal of Jason (again in RAF uniform) was impressive.

The two guards changed their RAF jackets onstage to become other characters - Christopher Harper, Creon the ruler of Corinth; and Alec Hopkins, Aegeus, the king of Athens, both using their excellent acting talents to create their powerful characters.

Freya Poole (nurse) and Aine McGarvey (tutor) too, were accomplished and Anna Roberts as the messenger delivered a blood-curdling and absolutely riveting account of Medea's terrible revenge.

I loved the use of puppets to portray the children (puppeteers Eddy Futers and Charlotte Allen). It was brilliantly conceived, sensitively and beautifully handled and fascinating to watch.

The set was simple and worked well, lighting was suitably dramatic, unobtrusive music added atmosphere and costumes had a good period feel. Well done to Peter Watt and Shining Lights for yet another challenging and compelling piece of theatre.