Medea – A relevant theatre that lacks the intrigue of the ‘Medea’ idea

Posted by Kaahon Desk On December 8, 2019

One of the most famous female characters of ancient Greek epics is Medea, the princess of Colchis.

One of the most famous female characters is Medea, the princess of Colchis.

Medea, the princess of Colchis.

Medea, the woman.


Since she is dressed in so many adjectives, Medea has had to take certain decisions at certain points of time. Even though she begins her journey as a female character in a Greek epic, she becomes famous (infamous?) by her own name by the end of it. Though the Medea myth has altered itself according to the social morality of different times, Medea has successfully made her mark by asserting her arrogance and ill-fate. Therefore, working with a text like ‘Medea’ is contextual but quite risky.

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It’s contextual because the politics taking place with women that started centuries ago couldn’t be destroyed till date. It’s risky because the politics is so complex and multi-layered that showing it elaborately within 2-3 hours is an arduous job. There’s always the chance of a particular layer receiving more importance than the others. This creates a particular interpretation. And then Medea crosses her borders and boundaries of time, space and context and becomes a representation of only a chosen period of time; she is marked by certain political colours. It’s the society’s tendency, as always, to lock these characters like Medea within a chosen time frame.

One of the representations of a 21st century Medea has been staged by Rangapat and directed by Tapanjyoti Das in their new production ‘Medea’. Ratan Kumar Das has adapted the text from the original play ‘Medea’ by Euripides. Probably, the play has been edited a lot so as to not make it too lengthy, which is why the journey of the play suffers quite a few bumps. In Euripides’ ‘Medea’, the eponymous character is seen to take certain decisions that are enough to include her in the discussion of cruel female characters at par with Lady Macbeth. Murdering her own brother, betraying her own clan and, the one that’s unimaginable and unforgivable by the society, killing her own child are some of the decisions taken by Medea. Hence, the society marked her identity as the “Cruel & Murderous Medea”. Then come the “Magician Medea”, the “Feminist Medea”, at times the “Refugee Medea” or even the “Nameless Medea”. She has gathered these different titles. The writer has always held up the picture of the society with respect to Medea. Thus Medea could never become the real self of Medea herself.

In the context of several incidents happening in India and all over the world in 2019, the “Refugee Medea” and the “Nameless Medea” find relevance – this is undeniable. (If you have haven’t read the Medea myth, click on – Wikipedia link). But dressing her in these two tags neither does justice to her character nor portrays the complicated relation between the people and the State in today’s time. Today if one Medea is to be kicked out of the nation, a large number of citizens have to be manipulated unconsciously in order to gain support from them. Even a single Medea, if she has the power, can take revenge from the State in her own way.

It’d be wrong to overlook the fact that Medea was a modern as well as a post-modern human being, which strongly comes to the fore with her own way of freedom of expression, firm decisions and individual autonomy . It was important to bring forth this aspect of her character in today’s time. Instead, in the play, Medea loses to her ill-fate, stands helpless in front of the State, someone who wants revenge, someone who is always nameless. Portraying the equation of Medea isn’t so simple. The playwright had the scope, he did.

As mentioned earlier, due to profuse editing, the play experiences bumps on its way, especially the scenes where Jason (Who’s Jason? Please read the Medea myth) and Medea meet and make love didn’t get enough time for the build-up. The dialogues from those scenes have been kept mainly for the information, otherwise it doesn’t add much to the main plot. The set design by Soumik & Piyali is always a layered one, and it’s the same here as well. But the overuse of a chorus has often crowded the stage and its adjacent areas a bit too much, even though the presence of a chorus is mandatory in Greek plays. The music by Drone Acharya and lights by Sudip Sanyal have helped in creating quite a few dramatic moments in the play (though we expect a lot more from these established people).

Lakkhir Bahon- Relevant classic storyline, lacking present-day expressions on stageWe must also mention the sound operator Anindya Nandi and the light operator (changes as per availability) for their work because their idea of timing is what is making the sound and light of every show accurate. Costume and posture have been designed by Niloy Sengupta while the mime has been designed by Subhendu Mukhopadhyay. The chorus here has shown some good teamwork (Monotosh Mukherjee, Arghya Ray, Mandira Chakraborty, Sunayna Bhowmik, Panna Mondal, Swagata Das, Mrittika Naskar, Sushyamal Sanpui, Shakti Dey and others) but may be with more practice they’ll be better as a single unit.

Senjuti Mukhopadhyay as Medea, Suman Saha as Jason, Creon & Aegeus and Sukriti Lahori as Medea’s attendant and friend deserve praise for their acting. That they have performed very well in different plays throughout their lives is known to all. If more shades could’ve been added to their respective characters, justice would’ve been done in a better way to their great acting capabilities. The audience too would’ve had an “experience” of the same.

To conclude, I’ll say what I always have to say in the end. Don’t decide whether you’ll watch a play by reading a review. First, watch the play and then let us know if your review matches with ours. If you love theatre, practice and discuss about it. Watch theatre and make people watch theatre. Above all, be with theatre, be with Kaahon.

P.S. 1: Why the children of Jason & Medea were brought up with their mother’s identity in a patriarchal society could’ve been explored more.

P.S. 2: We could’ve felt a tad bit more important and sympathetic as an audience if the play wasn’t explained to us about its context in the end.

Ebong Ipsita
A Kolkata based theatre practitioner, she has been doing theatre from 2005 and now she is co-directing and adapting plays for different theatre groups in Bengal. She believes to explore the web medium as well to express herself to the world.

Translation- Kankabati Banerjee

Read this review in Bengali.

বাংলাতে পড়তে ক্লিক করুন।

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