Now, I must admit, I am completely biased. Medea was MBCT's last show, so... well, no matter what, I was already in love with the story. I was ready to sit back and let the story envelop me. Oh boy... there was no sitting back last night.
Theater Mitu "methodically experiments with theatrical form" and "investigate[s] the spiritual core of world performance traditions to create original work and re-envision classics." Medea is the story of a woman who gets revenge on her husband by murdering his new wife and father-in-law, then her own children. Add this story to that company and WHAM BAM POW! you have an intense bit o' theatre.
Before I go on and get all theatre-y, I have to say this: THE SHOW WAS GREAT, GO SEE IT, IT WAS REALLY GOOD, GO GO GO!!! Ok, now I can go on.
Theater Mitu's Medea is as different from MBCT's MEDEA; a Tragedy of Revenge as different can be, yet... I just kept thinking last night that they were strangely similar. See for yourself:
MBCT: German Expressionism and Film Noir with songs (4-part harmony all-female acapella)
Theater Mitu: influences: Noh, film, Epic forms, Butoh, Legong, and Whole Theater
STORY and SETTING
MBCT: I combined Euripides's Greek version with Seneca's Roman version; the chorus mainly from the former, the plot and characters mainly from the latter. King Creon became Princess Creusa, the neighbor Aegeus became the hermit Glauce, songs were added, and off-stage horrors (the fire, the princess's death) were put on stage. There was no set, rather the four chorus women walked the perimeter of the square stage, and the story of Medea took place in the center. As characters passed from center to perimeter, they transformed from German Expressionistic horror to sexy Film Noir. Everything was black-and-white.
Theater Mitu: It's from the Greek version by Euripides, adapted by Rubén Polendo, the director. Genders are switched: Medea is played by a man, Jason and Creon by women. The Nurse is called Slave, the chorus is three women in head-to-toe black Chekhovian dresses, King Creon is a Metropolis/Edward Scissorhand-esque tyrant, Aegeus is a voice and the light of a flashlight, and the children are played by a naked man in a glass box. The set is a too-small delapidated sitting room; the walls are falling apart, dust covers everything, doors open and bang shut, the ceiling may collapse. Medea is naked, the chorus women are severely covered, and Jason is half in a chorus woman's dress and half undressing.
MBCT: Medea was nine months pregnant, a vicious sorceress with familial ties to the gods. Jason was desperately torn between Medea and his new wife Creusa. Medea and Jason couldn't keep their hands off each other, their relationship full of physical lust. Creusa, the princess, was sixteen and devestatingly naive. Medea's Nurse was slow and careful, religious, and an oracle; she is abused by her Mistress and through sorcery forced to play out Medea's evil plans. The hermit, Glauce, refused to help Medea and was consequently punished by being the sole survivor of the city's fire. The chorus women were beautiful, stoic Film Noir ladies, singing ballads about the gods, love, battle, nature, men, and Medea's fate.
Theater Mitu: Medea is played by a naked man, so devestated by her husband's betrayal she can barely move. Jason, played by a half-dressed woman, is proud and stoic. But as Medea takes her revenge -- murdering the princess, King, and her two little boys -- she becomes tall and calm as Jason melts into a puddle of convulsions and shrieks. The Slave, horribly bent over and covered in inky black, tells Medea's woes and is tricked into playing out her evil plans. Jason, though subltle in movements, has a young and carefree voice. He flippantly explains his actions to a Medea covered in crusty white -- a Medea who moves and looks as concretely stuck in her misery as a Greek statue does in its place.
So there are all these intensely different differences, and yet...
... and yet it was the same story, the same themes, the same painful twists and turns.
Medea always makes the decision to kill the Princess and King. This is not very nice. But then... then she decides to kill her own little boys, and the chorus always begs her not to. This is devestating and terrifying and just... Just. Jason always comes onstage at the last moment to beg her not to do it, and she always does. Sometimes she kills them in front of him, sometimes she does it off-stage, and in some versions she drags onstage the first dead body and kills the second one in front of him. And always -- no matter the style or interpretation or translation or even if it's the Greek or Roman version -- always Medea weaves in and out of being the cause and being the effect. Jason always crumples at the end. And always the chorus sees it all.