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.

One thought on “November Books 13) Medea, by Euripides

  1. It occurred to me there’s a simple (joke) solution here. It’s quite clear that Englandshire does not want to be in the EU, but Scotland does, so obviously we should inherit the EU membership and free England to go join the US, or whatever it is it wants to do instead.

Comments are closed.