Bristol Old Vic’s modern adaptation of Medea

Bristol’s Old Vic has opened its stage to an all-female cast as Associate Director George Mann and Writer Chino Odimba take on Robin Robertson’s translation of Euripides’ Medea.

This classic Greek tragedy of Medea is the story of betrayal and deceit by her partner Jason and the boundless desires of her vengeance. The classic elements have been masterfully entwined with the modern adaptation that boldly lays bare the often-unheard injustices and struggles most women face and to which they can relate, striking a familiarity in most viewers.

The reinterpretation has the character Maddy at the centre and she similarly discovers the disloyalty of her husband as the play further explores her jealousy, anger and longing for reprisal. Maddy, the now single mother, is inspired by the book of Medea which she finds on her doorstep. She uses the text to draw strength and reignite her courage, voice and identity.

The play cleverly shifts between the story of Medea and the modern-day journey of Maddy, the lace binding the two stories is the unfair prejudices women experience when faced with unfaithfulness and divorce.

Akiya Henry plays the dual role for Maddy and Medea and puts on a poignant and powerful performance which is provoking and raw.

The stage is stripped back of props and scenery to let the cast take centre stage with intense and passionate acting.  Michelle Fox, Eleanor Jackson, Kezrena James, Stephanie Levi-John and Jessica Temple take up interchanging roles throughout the play convincingly delivering on each.  The captivating and rich performances of the cast almost trick you into believing there are more on stage than just six.

The story ends on a titillating climax which has the audience on the edge of their seats as they try to second guess how closely the adaptation would resemble the classic – would it also end so tragically or would sisterhood and strength prevail?

This is a powerful, intense and thought provoking piece that explores themes of feminism. Despite the serious undertone to the play you will feel warmth for the characters, laugh and be truly entertained.

Written by: Sophie Hanley

Photographer: Jack Offord