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.