From Feministic Rage to Madness

From Feministic Rage to Madness

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Medea. Photo: Tindra Englund.

Jealousy, murder, and desperation. Lundagård‘s reviewer Tindra Englund think that Lund’s Student Theatre’s (LUST) Medea is an excellent cure for those who have been overdosed with student humour.

Text: Tindra Englund – Translation: Viktor Jönsson

Some light flares on the poorly furnished scene, the wind howls and all costumes are almost colourless. The lack of distractions makes it possible for Euripides’ timeless anti-tragedy to come closer than ever, even though it was written almost 2500 years ago.

“Nothing causes as much pain as love”

The drama begins with an anxious nurse who is afraid that her mother-in-law has lost her mind. The reason for Medea’s scream and rage is that her husband Jason has left her and the children, to get a new wife. And not any wife; it is the king’s daughter. This, even though Medea has let down her own family (which ensured her father’s death) and has moved to Corinth for her husband’s sake. To make matters even worse, the king decides to banish her.

“What should a refugee do when thrown out into nothingness?”

The scene between the king and Medea feels like up-to-the-minute social criticism. The powerful king decides to banish the powerless woman because of his own fear of her. But what is paradoxical is that it’s his actions which break her and makes her adhere a desperate act. A desperation recognized by many contemporary refugees.

“No one should be able to hurt me without suffering for it”

As a refugee, stranger and an abandoned woman, Medea has no rights and she is desperate and jealous. Attached to a choir of “women” she decides to refuse to be a victim. Instead, she shall have revenge. But when she decided to kill her own children, the feminist struggle passes into pure madness, and no woman can no longer support or understand Medea’s decision.

Initially, most of those who have been unhappily in love, or been betrayed by the one they love, can recognize themselves in Medea. And she also accurately highlights the timeless patriarchal norms that are to women’s disadvantage, in heteronormative relationships and as well as in society.
Unfortunately, the final act of LUST’s version of Medea falls in an unrealistic way to madness. This is made most clear when she, unconcerned and smiling, listens to the disturbing stories of how her murderous plans’ success, which in the end means the death of her own children. Here I miss a deeper and clearer and more nuanced inner struggle.

Even in the first scene, I have difficulty to emotionally keep up with the play and it felt somewhat stiff. It may also be because of the stagy English and the slightly over the top gestures. But when Medea enters the stage, the story completely captures me. And by far, the most outstanding actor performances is in some of the scenes between Medea and her ex-husband. And by the servant who, in the final act, delivers the death announcement.
LUST’s set of Medea is in equally strong contrast to a student spex, like a shadow theatre to a carnival. LUST clearly does not fear the pretentious, and they let the story be as heavy and dark as it is. Which feels like a fresh nip of air for those who sometimes suffocate in the student life.

The play premiered Tuesday and is played tonight, Friday, at 19.00 in the concert hall at AF-Borgen.

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