Blueprint Medea at Finborough Theatre online
The Medea of Euripides’s tragedy is refreshed in present-day London, with the weighty themes of exile, war and female oppression as boldly expressed as ever, in Julia Pascal’s Blueprint Medea. Pascal rewrites the barbarian Greek princess as an ex-fighter of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the protagonist in a story of betrayal and a desperate manifestation of justice.
This fast-paced production shows Medea fleeing Kurdistan on a forged passport in search of a new life. In a committed portrayal by Ruth D’Silva, Medea is as complex as her myth, shaped by her roots into a ruthless survivor, yet no less a victim to an unfaithful lover, who abandons her for a wife preferred by his father. Frequently integrated flashbacks unfold Medea’s past and present life simultaneously, engaging the audience with a forward momentum, and these snippets of her former life provide nuance to her ultimate acts of vengeance.
Against the bleak backdrop of a tormented past, there is charismatic acting from Max Rinehart as Jason, and his humour meets Medea’s sharp wit to form an instant connection. Her predisposition to wariness is soon broken down by his charm, and her fragmented English brings humour to an enjoyable scene. Jason’s departure seems half-hearted, especially when following a powerfully escalated insight into his father’s indifference. But D’Silva transitions admirably into mad desperation, and Medea’s unfiltered, wide-eyed innocence becomes an unwavering determination to harm her betrayer. Smoothly choreographed dialogue and gesture speak of the cutthroat narratives of a woman’s life in the KWP, and are placed effectively to dramatise Medea’s downward spiral.
The ending itself, which sees Medea scrunch photos of her sons held high, seems slightly anticlimactic after such anger has accumulated, and clinical, considering the enigmatic natural powers Medea expresses throughout. However, her pain is apparent, and there is something haunting in the simplicity of her silent cries. Perhaps they are a symbol of the many voices of women oppressed by an existence under male domination.
Despite the weakening of some characters towards the end, this is an energetic play overall, with devotion to its message. Pascal creatively weaves themes of political injustice into the story of a woman desperate to build ground in a new life which eventually fails her. Blueprint Medea is a motivated statement resonating with modern issues, leaving us in many ways with a sympathetic reflection of the struggle an exiled woman like Medea endures.
Photo: Isabella Ferro