Medea of Baghdad is a one-woman, contemporary synthesis of the dark, tragic Greek myth of betrayal and revenge written by Euripides, first produced in 431B.C, of Medea. This modern play tells the story of an academic marrying an Iraqi refugee in Australia, and converting to his way of life, to his land, completely in love, and further, to committing crimes of catastrophic proportions.
The most striking element to this production is Tanja Beer’s set design. The set appears to be made entirely of paper, and erupting from a far corner of the forty-seat La Mama Theatre. It is paper in various forms lying fixed and loose, shredded, screwed up, and smoothed out, pictures of two children, pinned like clothes on a barbwire line.
Beer’s design, with realization by Jennifer Tran and Nancy Nguyen, has such great presence and texture, creating a magnificent frame for Alizadeh’s text, which is equally as exciting, poetic, and rich. Complemented by Nicola Andrews’ lighting design, this landscape is hot, versatile and dynamic, discarded and worn.
Performer, Miranda Nation, whilst theatrically engaging, lacked the darkness of the volatile, tormented, abused Medea, the characterization sitting more comfortably in the realms of vindictiveness, and a reaction against failure. Nation’s performance was breathy, anxious, and at times appeared unsupported and forced, both vocally and physically.
Medea of Baghdad is visually beautiful and well worth experiencing simply for its design. Cleverly interwoven with satire, this powerhouse of a play, with the right balance of creative energies, could be a ‘must – see’ all round.
La Mama presents
Medea of Baghdad
by Ali Alizadeh
Directed by Tanja Beer
Venue: La Mama Theatre | 205 Faraday St Carlton
Dates: August 31 – September 11, 2011