My Mother Medea

Theatre, Drama
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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The brutal Greek myth gets a tough update for teenagers

Meet your new classmates. Eriopis and Polyxenos. Nope, you probably can’t spell their names right: but neither can Euripedes, the ancient Greek playwright who only devoted a few lines to their brutal murder by the hands of their own mother in his tragedy ‘Medea’. Holger Schober’s furious reworking of the myth for teen audiences is set in a giant classroom, where Medea’s two children snarl and spit their way out of obscurity.

Director Justin Audibert’s bold staging makes the audience sit in school chairs arranged around graffitti-strewn tables. It makes sense, since Schober’s play is structured as an extended introduction by these two pupils, who’ve been shifted from school to school on the trail of their famous father Jason (of ‘and the Argonauts’ fame). Eriopis is appropriately peed off at her heartless parents and Stephanie Levi-John plays the furious teenager with relentless aggro.

Her brother Polyxenos (Lawrence Walker) is quieter, fond of action men and awed by the prospect of ever living up to his real-life action hero of a Dad. But when Eriopis calls him a sissy, he can more than hold his corner. This is the closest you’ll get to pure teenager warfare, short of sitting upstairs on a 3.30pm bus. Stray insults catch audience members who offer up suggestions to their questions: Levi-John swears in the face of a teenage girl who messes up the details of Jason's story, but she looks like she can handle it.

There are crystal-clear parallels drawn between these two furious outsiders and the migrants who the UK’s educational system is making increasingly unwelcome. And for anyone schooled in Euripedes’s original, there’s the nerdy charm of little references and riffs on the Greek story. Still, at under 50 minutes long, this is a pretty slight piece – it feels unstructured and brief, and barely alludes to the gruesome events ‘Medea’ is notorious for. But maybe that makes sense - just like all the Greek classics, the real action takes place off stage.

By: Alice Savile

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