Review: Medea, John Paul College

By Jill Nicolas

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Some of the cast of John Paul College's Medea. Photo / Stephen Parker
Some of the cast of John Paul College's Medea. Photo / Stephen Parker

Intense, gut-wrenching drama of the highest calibre.

Take bow after bow John Paul College, yet again your students have excelled, this time at one of the most difficult of on-stage challenges - a Greek tragedy, albeit a production adapted to an ultra modern setting.

It opens with Medea's young sons lying prone, playing with their iPads and phones, not a bit as Euripides would have visualised it in 431 BC.

It was tragic then, if it's possible it's even more so circa the 21st century, despite the world becoming almost immune to abandonment, ambition, betrayal, revenge and the most heinous of murders.

What can be more heinous than a mother who butchers her two sons because their father Jason (he of the golden fleece) abandons her to marry the king's daughter, Kreusa? Naturally, it's for the sake of political expediency.

Serial killer Medea first dispatches Kreusa with a wedding cloak of poison, next it's her dad, King Aegeus, who absorbs the poison as he embraces his dying daughter.

Then it's her boys she turns the knife on.

Heavy stuff for any actors to tackle, when it's played by JPC's Year 12 and 13 students it's a powerhouse of professionalism.

Director Gabrielle Thurston, the school's drama head, has wrung every ounce of emotional intensity out of a cast dramatically mature, way beyond their chronological years.

Rebecca Colby as Medea is an exceptional young talent, her future surely rooted in drama.

Fervently pacing the stage, her murderous intent built by the minute as she glugged down hard liquor with polished ease, portraying vengeance with a knife-edged sharpness.

Steven Glyde playing Jason, Zoe Spence as Kreusa and Cayley Nel, the boy's nursemaid, revealed themselves as quality performers.

Not once did they, or any of the supporting cast, falter.

In on Medea's brutal plotting, the ubiquitous Greek chorus metamorphoses as bridesmaids.

The silent innocence of Medea and Jason's sons, (twins Matthew and Angus Veitch), made the plot even more deeply awful.

There's a lesson older, more experienced performers can learn from these JPC students; every word delivered projected to the back of the theatre with clarity and without the help of headsets, an annoying invention that would have baffled Euripides as much as tablet technology.

Details:

WHAT: Medea by John Paul College.

WHERE: Casa Blanca Theatre.

WHEN: Friday and Saturday.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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