Photo - Sean Young
I was particularly keen to see director Kat Henry’s interpretation of Medea Material after hearing of her production company Stella Electrika’s reputation for edgy and electric (as the name would suggest) live performances. It was certainly both offbeat and amplified at La Boite that night. It was also very post-modern and fascinating. Did I understand it? Not at all. But hey, just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, right?
To undermine my own reputation as a theatre reviewer I must admit I was not overly familiar with Heiner Muller’s 1981 play. That is to say I had no clue. Without solid familiarity with the context of the Jason/Medea myth I started off rather lost in the rich text and reinterpreted archetypes. However this doesn’t stop the basic (and I mean basic like; man+woman then man+other woman, then some murder) narrative coming through clearly.
After a brief wiki-education, I can now say that the characters of the myth were portrayed in some very clever contemporary fashions. Cue Jason the rock god, Medea the tired cabaret diva and Glauce the Harajuku girl come pole dancer. All of them sing (some even dance) and each performer manifests a thoroughly intriguing presence.
Persistently modern, the show also features film and multi media, with just a hint of porn thrown in for shock measure. Guy Webster, playing Jason, shows off his musical talent to great effect when the stage is revealed with a live band set-up. The cast belt out a few electro/rock numbers with the fabulous Lucinda Shaw (Medea) behind the microphone. They really did belt it out too. While I admired their talent I found that the volume of industrial electro from the second row of an intimate theatre was a bit oppressive. But then again maybe that was the intention. You never can tell what they’re trying to do with you in a show like this.
All in all this production was an exciting and thought provoking (thoughts like; huh?) experience. It no doubt places Kat Henry and Stella Electrika at the forefront, nay, the cutting edge of hybrid-multi-arts-theatre/live music/dance. That is to say, The New Dead: Medea Material is unlike anything you’ve seen before. It inhabits a kinky and corrupt dreamscape where all is slightly confusing yet leaves you titillated to know what’ll happen next. It makes a fun night out of your classical Greek adultery and murder variety. But above all it enriches Brisbane’s arts scene and offers a brave and ultimately intelligent piece of theatre for its viewers to absorb however they see fit. Just don’t bring your nan. Unless of course your nan is rather highbrow and hip, in which case she’ll probably ‘get it’ better than you.
La Boite Indie and Stella Electrika present
The New Dead: Medea Material
by Heiner Muller | translation by Carl Weber
Venue: La Boite Theatre | Level 5, The Works, 6-8 Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove
Dates: 17 Nov - 5 Dec, 2010
Times: Tuesday - Wednesday 6.30pm; Thursday - Saturday 7.30pm; Sunday 5pm
Duration: 60 minutes (no interval)
Tickets: Full Price $28 | Concession $25