Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What to See and When: a Medea Reprise

I am still struggling with the life-long question about timing … when is it the right time to introduce children to certain forms of art. And probably, more important, the question should be about when to introduce them to certain themes in art. The question emerged again when I was going to see Medea

I was remembering that Catherine took her kids to see Hansel and Gretel opera and that someone in the audience chastised her at the intermission. The theme was too dark they thought. And perhaps it was, for the setting had been changed to a Germany during WW II, something Catherine probably hadn’t been aware of.

So? While I was going to the performance of Medea by myself, I had been thinking, what if Doral and Anita’s kids were still here? Which of them would I want to take?  The answer is probably, ... all.  And what would I say to prepare them? Would my reading of the reviews have been enough?

So when Rebecca said she had seen the performance, … I was glad to have someone to bounce these ideas off of. Rebecca, did you take your kids? Or did you get your friend, Stacey, to go along? Or … were you solo?

When the show was over, when the last credits had rolled by, and when most of the patrons had left the theatre, Kelvin turned to me and said, "I can't move."

“Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

I was just messing with him. Taking me on the literal level and fearing that I might act on that information he slowly rose to his feet and reached for his walker. But I knew what he meant.

That had been one of those shows, after which I think, “This might have been the best piece of theatre I have seen in my whole life.  Stunning in every detail.”

First of all, to be specific, I was interested in how the director would address that question above – the one of warning the audience that the theme was dark and difficult.

 The answer was in the text, in the initial warning by the nurse that what we were about to see was not for the faint-hearted and that we should leave right now if knowing that in the end, Medea was going to kill her two children was going to overwhelm us.

And then the play began – a play within a play. Nice.  And then the wrap up, the same way.

And the question of how to make an ancient Greek play relevant?

 So quickly done by having the setting updated, even to the point of having us watch the children who were watching T.V., or at one point, the  children so busy with their own electronic devices that they were oblivious to the dynamics going on between their parents.

I liked the touch of introducing Medea to us by having her perform one of the daily rituals we do unconsciously. I never think about that act as leveling us all in one way. She was brushing her teeth. In the mythology, I think she is the granddaughter of the sun god. But here … she was one of us … could have been any of us.

I am not good with an analysis of dance. But I was taken with the wedding dance between Jason and his princess-wife – struck by its angularity, its rhythmic pulse, its awkward form. And on that note, having it performed on the second level of the set, on the level we usually saw only through a curtain, but now it was visible and real to us.

Ah … what more is there to say. Probably a lot more. But let this be enough and I will meet you at one of the next Front Row Centre events.

In fact, now that I think about it, The Last Night of the Proms is next Saturday.

 If I get there, it will be the first time I have tried that event.


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