Medea Laughs

MEDEA by Liz Lochhead, after Euripides, directed by Graham McLaren, with Maureen Beattie, Duncan Duff, Finlay Welsh, Karen Kyle and.


MEDEA by Liz Lochhead, after Euripides, directed by Graham McLaren, with Maureen Beattie, Duncan Duff, Finlay Welsh, Karen Kyle and Carol Ann Crawford. Presented by Theatre Babel and World Stage Preview at the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queen’s Quay West). Runs to April 13, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm. $35-$45. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNN

Rating: NNNN

who would have thought that the grisly, vengeful tale of Medea could contain so much humour? Mind you, in Liz Lochhead’s adaptation of the Euripides classic, the comedy is sardonic and ironic, with the bitter-almond aftertaste of cyanide even when it’s delivered like a music-hall joke.

Lochhead’s version captures the poetry of the original yet uses Scots vernacular — the outsider Medea speaks a middle-European-tinged English — and turns the chorus into a group of everyday women, “survivors of the sex wars,” who side with Medea’s call for vengeance against a callous mate but balk when she deploys infanticide as her ultimate weapon.

The whole cast is fine in this visiting Theatre Babel show, but Maureen Beattie’s hypnotic Medea appropriately stands out — not just because of her red dress in a black-garbed society — with her wealth of tones and moods, including the ability to send herself up while she manipulates those around her.

Duncan Duff’s casuist Jason hits a universal note as a man who cheats on his partner he blames Medea for his wandering cock.

Karen Kyle’s Glauke, the third party in this triangle and a figure not onstage in Euripides, changes from sweet conciliator to goading rival, thus clinching Medea’s bloody deeds in a show that emphasizes the recurring cycle of revenge. jonkap@nowtoronto.com

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