Modern 'Medea' in London stars Potter film's Helen McCrory

Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:34pm EDT
 
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Helen McCrory of Harry Potter fame is a chain-smoking Medea and pop duo Goldfrapp provides a riveting score for a new staging in London of Euripides's 2,500-year-old play that may not be the "Medea" of all time but is certainly one for this age.

The adaptation, which had its press night at Britain's National Theater on Monday, sets the scene as the audience enters to see Medea's two young, doomed sons lying in sleeping bags on stage, watching television under the watchful eye of their nurse.

On a floor above them is a room with a banquet table set with a wedding cake, Their father, Jason, played by Danny Sapani, will marry Kreusa, the young daughter of King Kreon of Corinth in a nuptial that has fired Jason's first wife into a vengeful rage.

At the back of the set is a primeval forest that could serve double duty for the witches from "Macbeth" and where Medea howls her curses and will later kill her sons.

The nurse, played by Michaela Coel, is the Cassandra of the evening, who in her prologue says there is only one way the play can end - and returns at the conclusion to say, in effect, "Well, I told you so."

McCrory, reprising in some ways her Narcissa Malfoy witch from the Potter films, but also deploying the charm of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, Cherie, whom she portrayed twice on screen, throws her all into the role of the spurned wife who gets revenge by killing her own children.

"I might be choked with misery, famished by grief but there is still life in me," Medea wails, before unearthing a sack containing a poisoned garment for Kreusa to wear, and a dagger to kill her sons. "I'm not finished. There's trouble come to the house of Kreon."

McCrory, all winsomeness and guile one minute, and spitting poison the next, is hardly off stage for a minute of the 90-minute production, directed by Carrie Cracknell, whose staging of "Blurred Lines" about rape culture was a hit for the National last year.   Continued...

 
Actors  Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis arrives  at Windsor Castle southern England  April 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor