REVIEW: “Medea” – Edinburgh International Festival

Medea – The Hub – Royal Mile

GREEK tragedies have been adapted for centuries with varying degrees of success, but rarely am I left in devastated awe by the raw power of a performance. Poet and playwright Liz Lochhead’s modern feminist adaption, performed predominantly in Scots, gripped its audience from the onset and refused to let go as we were dragged through this ravaging tragedy.

Glasgow-based actress Adura Onashile absolutely stunned with her powerful portrayal of Medea, channelling all the character’s trademarked rage and grief that echoed in the marrows of the audience’s bones. Medea’s role as an outsider, easily disregarded among the Greeks, is emphasised both in her being the only Black body on set (besides her children and member of the chorus), and the only one not speaking in Scots.

Robert Jack as Jason was appropriately despicable, then pitiable in his role. The consequences of his conceit were well-depicted between the scenes of his offhand vulgarity when talking to and of Medea and his later anguish upon the death of his weans. The naivety and supposed sincerity Glauke – Jason’s ignorant fiancé played by Alana Jackson – aptly demonstrated how harmful “good intentions” can be when made without the consent of those involved.

The ten women chorus who bolstered Medea’s hatred made their haunting entrance amidst the audience. The use their synchronised harpy-like chants as they emphasised with Medea as women and mothers and then vilified her after she made her horrifying choice was evocative and effective.

The set was aptly framed by Anne Lacy as Medea’s nurse, pontificating her despair at her mistress ever meeting Jason in Scots – the perfect way to open and close this stunning production. Medea is an astonishingly evocative performance, as beautiful in its language as it is dreadful in content.


Read more about the show here.

Plus, read more reviews on Scottish Field’s Fringe pages.