Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

November Books 13) Medea, by Euripides

This is a short but tough play. At the opening, Medea resents Jason for bringing her to Corinth and then abandoning her for the local princess: she swears revenge, and using her own children by Jason as unwitting tools, poisons both the king and the princess (and the kids too). It's a horrible but believable scenario, and Medea, despite her monstrous decisions, comes across as a sympathetic character.

If I were ever in the unlikely position of staging this, I think there are three big questions arising from the script. First off, Jason - idiot, philanderer, or Machiavellian? It's not at all clear from what Euripides gives us. I think I would prefer to have him making clear-eyed political decisions, and then devastated by Medea's sabotage. Second, the Chorus - in today's theatre, really you would want her to be a single female character, observing and commenting, but also participating and encouraging. And third, the slightly weird thing is that the entire play takes place in the street outside Medea's house - which therefore becomes not a place of domesticity but a mysterious location which people enter and from which they emerge changed. This may not have fazed the ancient Greeks who expected the three unities to be preserved, but a modern audience will wonder why we never see inside the buildings.

Anyway, it's a powerful character study of a wronged woman exacting revenge. Rather thrilling.
Tags: bookblog 2009

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