The West Chester University production of “Medea” was interesting and unusual, to say the least.The play, written by Greek playwright Euripides and directed by theatre arts professor Harvey Rovine, was unlike any of this year’s other University productions. Though it was on the bizarre side, “Medea” was an entertaining production and contained the skilled acting that audiences have come to expect from the WCU Theatre.
The production was performed at the E.O. Bull Mainstage and ran from March 30 through April 4, 2004.
The play, set in the sixth century B.C., is centered on the Women of the Cult of Hera, a group of women of various ages and races, who gather together at a mountain to worship the goddess Hera. The roles of the cult members were played by Gretchen Androsavich, Katie Brady, Tamara Charles, Kate Iezzoni, Maria Maloney, Marissa Mickelberg, Megan Pisors, Anna Sadler, Kate Stewart, Rebeca Torres and Megan Moore (who led the women as the priestess.)
The cult, with the help of various relics and masks, performs the story of Medea, a tragic tale of a young woman who leaves her home and family to follow Jason, the man she loves. Medea helps Jason on his quest to find the Golden Fleece and saves his life several times, making many enemies herself. Once they reach Corinth and Medea bores him two sons, he abandons her for Glauke, the princess of Corinth. Her heart broken and her pride severely wounded, Medea decides to avenge this injustice and grave tragedy ensues.
The tale was performed with great emotion and skill by the women of the cult, who played all the roles, male and female. Every actress took part at one time or another, and they slid into the various roles with ease.
The set of the play, a violent mountain scene designed by West Chester student Eric Seipel, was elaborate and realistic. The characters could actually walk across the top of the “mountain” and various props were stored within the caverns and holes.
The costuming, designed by professor Joan Mary Morgan, was also excellent. The characters looked as if they had been traveling very long distances their clothes torn to shreds and with their feet bound with rags and rope.
Because of the lengthy amount of time without any dialogue at the start of the play, it took a while to get involved with the story and the characters. It was simply not what anyone expected. There was a lot of raw emotion, with characters yelling and fighting one minute, and seeming both physically and emotionally exhausted the next. It was an interesting transition to observe.
While “Medea” wasn’t as entertaining in the “let’s-go-relax-and-enjoy-a-play” sort of way, as previous University productions were, it was both interesting and educational. It dealt with many issues and themes that people today still grapple with. Themes of sexism, the despair of abandonment and the dangers of jealousy ruled the play. And it certainly forced audience members to confront these issues themselves. The acting was excellent and “Medea” certainly left a great impact on the audience.