Euripides’ 2.500-year-old tragedy of how a mother can cold-bloodedly murder her children is just as shocking today as it must have been to ancient Athens. The fact that her husband Jason abandoned her with two sons in a foreign land complicates the case against Medea and her plot to poison his new bride blurs the moral certainties even more.
In the hands of political theatre-maker Rafael David Kohn, who has also adapted a new English-language version, this is not a straightforward victim-perpetrator scenario. In his analysis of the play, he points out that both Jason and Medea are descended from deity, according to Greek mythology both have committed atrocities before the events of this play and they do not feel bound by society’s rules. Deploying a traditional Greek chorus to connect with the crowd as collective commentator on the action, Rafael David Kohn puts the audience at the centre of the tragedy: they become helpless bystanders unable to stop the horrors unfolding.
It is not difficult to find the relevance of this piece today if we consider that a recent WHO report estimated that one billion children aged 2-17 years have experienced some form of violence or neglect in 2020. Brigitte Urhausen and Nicholas Monu as the fated couple will lead an international cast in their exploration of this darkest of Greek classics.