It’s not possible to walk away from ENC’s rendition of “Medea” feeling light or happy. Shocked might be a better word to describe the audience’s reaction, perhaps even horrified.
Euripides’s “Medea” wasn’t written to send a light message, and ENC’s production of the Greek tragedy, directed by Tara Brooke-Watkins, was certainly heavy. The powerful, entrancing Shelly Greaves, who played the title character, portrayed a woman so terrifying and so disturbed that sometimes it was hard to watch.
“Medea” is certainly not a play for the faint of heart. It’s about a woman who enacts revenge on her unfaithful husband by killing their two children and his new wife.
As soon as the audience members entered the theatre to find their seats, the Chorus––played remarkably well by seniors Emily Holecy, Becky Malas, and Michaelin Thomas, freshman Noelle Rudeen, and Ashley Dionne––was already in place. They ran throughout the entire theatre, crying, wailing, banging on the walls, climbing over and under seats. Each chorus member was dressed in ripped, ratty clothing, with blood coating her face, arms, and knuckles.
They appeared and acted with hostility, though it is safe to say that no one in the audience was harmed physically (psychologically, it’s harder to say). It was more than watching a casual pre-show before the play started––it was an intense experience. One by one, each member of the Chorus cried about the injustices that had been committed against them, either by their mothers or husbands.
The lighting throughout the play, designed by Michael Ballard, changed regularly to emphasize a particular character or to set a mood. The contrasting darkness and lightness conveyed a sense of hopelessness and foreshadowed the tragic events to come. The set was sparse– simply a black stage occupied by the characters and illuminated by eerie lighting. Looking at the stage filled viewers with the sense of emptiness that Medea herself was going through, as if she was in a cage trapped with her suffering.
From the set to the acting, everything was well done−perhaps too well done, which raises the question, was “Medea” too dark for ENC?
Junior Megan Bemis attended the premiere of “Medea” on Thursday, April 10.
“I don’t think it’s too dark for ENC … it’s not like it’s vulgar. It just has some gory events, but they didn’t even show those on stage,” Bemis explained. “It’s a classic story and a Greek tragedy, which I think is just fine for ENC to perform.”
“It was a lot more eerie than I had expected it to be,” she said. Nevertheless, Bemis believed they captured the “true spirit of a Greek tragedy.” Because she was familiar with the story beforehand, the play had a larger impact on her than when she had read it in the past.
“Seeing, even if it’s fake, blood on real people makes it a lot more real and in your face,” she explained. “It makes it a lot more realistic, I think, and makes you consider the real implications of the story instead of just being removed and desensitized, which is our culture’s tendency.”
Those who thought they were prepared for the ENC Theatre department’s spring play were surprised to see a production that contrasted with the warming and sunny weather outside. It left many viewers feeling alone, cold, and devoid of all hope. It’s a sad story with a sad ending, something that is often times enough to leave the audience beyond words after the play.