We start with a non-PC Danforth Ave.-area joke. A man walks into a Greek tailor with his torn suit. The tailor asks EURIPIDES? To which the customer replies “yes, please – EUMENIDES?
Approximately 2300 years ago, Euripides wrote a tragic tale about Argonaut Jason’s (not the Toronto team) wife Medea who butchered in order to help her fiancé recover the Golden Fleece; then later committed double infanticide to punish her husband for betraying her. Her name became eponymous for the homicidal female – think Homulka.
The McMaster Thespian Company has courageously undertaken to present this drama with all its verbosity and arcane syntax. A challenge for experienced actors, the hurdles that face untested performers are Herculean (sorry, couldn’t resist another mythological reference). Under the direction of Chris Vergara the play opens with circa 1950’s vignettes of the era’s stereotypes; i.e. wifey is homemaker, subservient and chattel. The pre-curtain background of 50’s commercials, pop songs & slogans enhance the mood. Unfortunately, it’s only us O.F.’s that will appreciate the symbolism.
The plot itself: – Medea is suffering from depression. She’s found out that hubby Jason is dumping her for Glauce, the daughter of Creon- King of Corinth. Definitely a tough hit for someone who is a granddaughter of the Sun God Helios. Her maid enlists her mistress’s female friends, but Creon doesn’t trust her and orders her banishment along with her two sons. Hell hath no fury etc. and she promises to exact revenge.
Vergara has selected a promising group of actors (albeit there are instances of nervousness; miscues and line screw-ups) to portray the characters, especially the more support roles. As the King – Creon; Matthew Boccia displays some instinctive dramatic talent. His delivery is forceful without reliance on histrionics; his timing is precise and he possesses a regal façade. We couldn’t help but notice the mobile facial expressions by Jordan Brunet, and the animated passion contributed by Erin Dykstra. The few times the audience hears Deepanshu Metea s, they’ll notice his vocal timbre & cadence could earn him a fortune on radio or telemarketing.
In the major roles, Jessica Teicher offers sympathy and sincerity as Medea’s maid/nurse/ caregiver. Vergara’s direction makes her job even more of a task by keeping her sublimated to the histrionics that the title character must exhibit. As Medea, Graziella Mastrangelo was far too tense and had to repeat lines. She also subconsciously reveals her nervousness through some personal mannerisms that distract. [note to director – give her a barrette]. The role of Jason is played by a dynamic Dan Megaffin whose intensity is visceral. Definitely the type who could overcome Cerberus; the Harpies; navigate the Hellespont and not fall for the Sirens!
There are some other directorial oversights. The powerful dialogue that opens Act II even contains a line that became a Tennyson poem… the background music overpowered the discourse completely. On the positive side, the set design is adequate and functional. The costumes are pleasing and fit the 50’s period and the precise lighting effects are of professional quality. MEDEA is at Mac’s Robinson Hall and if tragedy is your thing, she’s worth a visit.