Theatre Review – Medea, London

Lauren went to see Medea at The National Theatre in London:

There is no better way of summarising Medea than to say ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ Medea is undoubtedly one of the most disturbing, and frankly, downright terrifying figures to emerge from the Greek tragedies and investigates the extent one can be driven to, when cast aside by the one they love, for another.


Everything Medea does is driven by revenge; the grief she feels when she is scorned by Jason, the man she fell in love with, and in his name committed some incredibly brutal acts, clouds her vision and leads her down a path of murder and destruction even resulting in the slaughtering of her own sons. When Jason abandons her and their children for another woman – King Creon’s daughter – Medea is not invited to the wedding, instead being banished by King Creon who quite clearly fears her. It is this act that leads Medea to her acts of desperation, with devastating consequences.

Helen McCrory is powerful and subtly menacing as Medea, pacing the stage like an animal stalking her prey. She has the wonderful ability to make her entire body shake at moments of heightened tension, seemingly unable to control her emotions throughout the play, which explain the extremes of her actions.

There is no moment where the tension subsides, and the stomach-churning finale is made that much worse by the presence of the two young boys on stage throughout, playing, laying down on their sleeping blankets, and generally being presented in all their innocence.

Danny Sapani does a wonderful job as Jason, with a heart-breaking reaction as Jason to his son’s deaths, and the contrast between him and McCrory is interesting. His physical presence is both commanding and powerful in comparison to McCrory’s much smaller frame yet; ultimately, it is McCrory’s Medea that is able to win the power struggle.

It is a joy to watch McCrory throughout the entirety of this performance, particularly in moments where she is plotting and able to compose herself, well enough to dupe Jason or other characters. The chorus have been cleverly choreographed to heighten the tension, with an initial dance that begins to emulate broken dolls, and later turns into far more frantic movements as the tension mounts. The music created by Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp beautifully complements the action on the stage, working to make everything more dramatic.

This is a play that leaves you both amazed and disturbed by the events that take place and will only be playing at The National Theatre in London until 4th September.

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