Medea, Almeida Theatre review: This tragedy will hit home, even if Euripides is all Greek to you

Melissa York
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Kate Fleetwood in the titular role at The Almeida

The Almeida has saved the fiercest play in its ambitious Greek season for last. Medea – widely considered a proto-feminist text – was never going to be the hardest tragedy to drag into the 21st century. Even so, playwright Rachel Cusk’s modern re-telling is uncomfortably familiar.

Her version of the titular Medea is a playwright and novelist whose barbs are largely directed at her actor husband Jason, who leaves her for an heiress.

The chorus, a cackling coven of yummy mummies, sashay around the stage singing a melancholy version of “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, while the nurse becomes a disapproving mother who’s constantly theorising about her daughter’s perceived failures as a woman.

Cusk’s play is brutal in its portrayal of the destruction warring parents wreak on their children in their quest for revenge. It’s gripping, tense and thoroughly relevant: Medea will hit home, even if Euripides is all Greek to you.

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