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Medea September 2012 – Port City Playhouse

Jordan Wright
September 24, 2012
Special to The Alexandria Times
 

Warning: Spoiler Alert.  The plot of Medea will be revealed here.  For those of you who are without knowledge of Greek mythology, you may want to stop reading now. Others, whose memories of Jason and Medea may be just a tad rusty, might find it handy to bone up with this truncated recap.

For starters Jason dumps Medea, wife and mother of his two boys, to marry a younger hotter babe whose father, Creon, is the filthy rich King of Corinth.  Nothing modern-day sociologists would find surprising.  But in twenty-four hours his adoring spouse will be banished from the kingdom to live on the mean streets of Greece without so much as a drachma to her name.  No social safety net in place then, but heaps of public scorn and the usual pariah status.  But Medea will not go gently into that good night.  “Oh triple fool,” she cries out, “You have given me time.”  And a plot that makes The War of the Roses look like an exercise in marital merriment thickens.

As soul sister to the sorceress Hecate, “Help me to remember the venomous fire!” she implores the Queen of the Night, Medea’s knowledge of potions and the Dark Arts is legendary and spot on deadly.  And you know what they say about Hell having no fury like a woman scorned, especially a woman who has already betrayed her father and murdered her brother to promote her husband’s social standing.  Jason should have known he’d get his head handed to him.

Ah, “the violence of love,” the Muses wail, trying to dissuade Medea from her retribution.  But there’s no stopping the avenging soon-to-be ex-wife from calling on the gods of the underworld to back her up.  Woe betide to our hapless Argonaut.  That’s some vindictive crew.

Anissa Parekh, a skillful actor, played the lead trained at both the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory as well as the Shakespeare Theatre Company

Anissa Parekh

Marking the beginning of its 35th anniversary is Port City Playhouse’s presentation of Medea with Anissa Parekh playing the lead.  Remember that name.  Parekh, who was trained at both the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory as well as the Shakespeare Theatre Company, is a skillful actor, whose knowledge of stagecraft is immediately evident.  It is thanks to her that this production has meat on its ancient bones.  Her ability to center the other performers by dint of her powerful stage presence saves it from drowning in the Aegean Sea.

Though I am a huge fan of PCP and their bold choices, this drama does not have the usual high caliber of performances, except for the commanding presence of Parekh.  Costumes are neither period nor contemporary but a hodgepodge of 30’s, ‘40’s and 50’s retro dresses with aprons and randomly chosen military uniforms for some of the men.  The primitive set includes a small refrigerator used as a stool, several chairs and a panel with double doors situated at the edge of the raised stage.  A black box theatre style would have been less distracting than watching actors yank at sticky doors while trying to wriggle through the narrow space without toppling off the proscenium.  Somewhere Dionysus and The Muses are cringing.  But notwithstanding these awkward production values and throwaway supporting roles, see it for Parekh.  Her Medea is memorable.

At The Lab at Convergence, 1819 North Quaker Lane, Alexandria, VA 22302.  Performances continue on these dates – September 25, 28, 29 at 8pm and September 22 and 29 at 2pm.  For tickets and information call 703 838-2880 or email PortCityInfo.com for reservations or visit www.portcityplayhouse.org.

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