Edinburgh International Festival



The Hub

Neil Cooper

Five stars

Love and anger are at the heart of the National Theatre of Scotland’s stately and sensual revival of Liz Lochhead’s ferocious and sometimes surprisingly funny take on Euripides’ study of how hell really does have no fury like a woman scorned. There are moments in Michael Boyd’s thrilling production when it looks like Adura Onashile’s furious Medea and her hubby Jason’s new squeeze Glauke, played by Alana Jackson, might tear physical chunks out of each other as much as verbal ones.

The fact that all this is played out aloft designer Tom Piper’s catwalk set, with all involved suited and booted for Jason and Glauke’s wedding, gives things an even more combative air. As does the ten-strong all woman Chorus who initially come out of the audience to give Medea some sisterly back-up, and end up witnessing the depths of her rage.

When Medea talks about how no-one likes you if you’re foreign, it sums up the small town resistance to difference she’s been up against since she and Jason first landed in Corinth. Where Medea was an exotic trophy bride to show off to the locals, Glauke is one of his own. While hardly the girl next door, she has streetsmart attitude enough to hold her own with her adversary, however much Medea outclasses her as she takes matters into her own soon-to-be-bloodied hands.

Punctuated by James Jones’ mesmeric percussion score, Lochhead’s writing is as devastatingly evocative as it was twenty-two years ago when her play was first produced. Medea spars with all-comers as she strides the catwalk with a mix of swishy elegance and determined steel that not even any lingering passion for Robert Jack’s doomed Jason can thwart. By the end, Medea may be a woman alone, but she also has the power to change her fate.

Until August 27 - https://www.eif.co.uk/events/medea