‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. Medea at Beer Quarry Caves (Theatre Review)
Medea by Four of Swords Theatre Company. Beer Quarry Caves April 2017.
Stronger than lover’s love is lover’s hate. Incurable, in each, the wounds they make ― Euripides, Medea
A deceptively cold and foggy evening was the backdrop for our drive out to Beer Quarry Caves to see Four of Swords’ adaption of Euripides’ Greek tragedy, Medea. It was a night out that Mrs EE had booked some time ago, told me about and reminded me of numerous times – but as usual, I somehow missed the detail and understood we were going to Beer for the evening.
As we slowly turned in to Beer Quarry Caves car park, I remembered the performance of Macbeth and there was the silent penny dropping and I knew I was in for a treat.
Four of Swords is a theatre company led by Devonians Sarah White and Philip Kingslan John. Their shows are always engaging and immersive, often dark with a clever mix of humour and audience interaction blended in. Their choice and use of atmospheric locations to support and drive the stories forward is always superb.
I must be honest, I wasn’t aware of the story of Medea before the performance and so I didn’t know what to expect. In brief, Medea tells the story of Jason after his quest for the Golden Fleece (remember the 1960’s film – skeleton army,seven-headed dragon and bored Gods toying with humans to pass the time..?) On the quest for the Golden Fleece Jason meets Medea; the Grand-daughter of the Sun God Helios. Medea helps Jason to complete his challenges on the condition that he marry her. She eventually kills her brother and betrays her Father to run away with him – all pretty standard!
The play picks up the story when their marriage is a little patchy and Jason is offered the hand in marriage of the King of Corinth’s young beautiful daughter. Jason accepts as this will give him the royal status he has desired for so long. So he decides to leave his part-God, treacherous and fratricidal wife. Not his smartest decision. What ensues is a masterclass in revenge. Medea takes no prisoners and stops at nothing so that Jason feels and understands the pain he put her through.
Four Of Swords put on an amazing performance. The backdrop of a cold dark cave brought the story to life, led the audience to focus on the intensity of the characters, the often dark emotions and feelings being portrayed.
The use of choral singing and chanting to build and intensify the charged atmosphere was superb and worked especially well with the natural acoustics of the cave. The singing was used to great effect in the scene where Medea formulates her murderous plan. The minimal lighting and haunting chorus choreographed to build a delicious intensity.
Sarah White’s performance as Medea was outstanding, the cast as a whole were brilliant with the chorus donning classic Greek masks – moving as one – weaving in and out of the audience.
What I particularly enjoy about this type of ‘live’ theatre is the opportunity for ad lib and for the cast to engage the audience – no two performances are the same.
As we walked out of the caves, I overheard others in the audience summarise the performance simply as ‘wow’. It wasn’t just me who was stunned and satiated in equal measure.
If you love theatre and want to see something different – go and see this.
If you think theatre is dull and boring and stiff – this will change your mind.
Do not miss it!
Medea is on until 21st April at Beer Quarry Caves, you can get tickets here.
Tags: beer, beer quarry caves, Devon, medea