MEDEA (Scotland) 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 at the Premiere Dance Theatre. April 8-13 at 8 pm.
parents murder their children: the horror story in today's headlines also inspired Greek drama thousands of years ago.Scottish playwright Liz Lochhead's adaptation of a Euripides classic gives new life to the legend of Medea, betrayed by her husband Jason after she's forsaken her own family and country for him. The terrible revenge she wreaks touches Medea herself as well as those around her.
"Liz's version of the story makes Medea not the Sun's granddaughter but simply a deeply intuitive human being who's good with potions and knows how to manipulate people," says Maureen Beattie, who originated the part and is touring with the Theatre Babel production. "But just because she's mortal," she adds with a smile in her voice, "don't think of her as an ordinary wee woman who goes shopping like the rest of us."
Lochhead's was one of three plays commissioned by the ensemble theatre group to give a Scottish take on classical dramas.
"Rather than make the outsider Medea a Scot in an anglofied society, Liz has made the culture around her Scottish and Medea a woman from an unidentified eastern European country. One of the reasons the premiere was such a gob-smacking, runaway success was that audiences saw their own world in the play."
Another crucial change in the play is the addition of a confrontation between Medea and Glauke, the younger woman Jason plans to put in her place.
"For any of us who've been heartbroken or hurt, you can deal with the pain if it's over there somewhere. But when the perpetrator of the pain is standing in front of you, palpable, touchable, killable" -- here Beatty gives a Medea-like laugh -- "it raises the stakes.
"If we get it right, the audience will feel like it's colluding with Medea, that somehow it's allowing the actions of the play to happen."
Beattie has another reason to look forward to a Toronto visit. She wants to meet Judith Thompson, whose play Perfect Pie she plans to direct next year.