Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: (Quebec City) La Médée d'Euripide

Grief, Great pain and...
Linda Laplante gives a towering performance
by Isabelle-Ann Charlebois 

When Jason (Hugues Frenette) leaves Médée (Linda Laplante) and her two sons for another woman - the daughter of Créon, King of Corinthe - despair, frustration, pain and a myriad of emotions fill the air.  
Médée gave everything up - her land, her people -  and even killed her own brother in order to be with Jason. She helped him get The Golden Fleece and fight the three-headed snake and so much more. Now she just cannot accept his abandonment. Rage and fury overtake her. 

Vengeance blinds her; even blurring her love of her children.

Diego Aramburo, director of this Médée (adapted by Marie Cardinal), along with Laplante’s performance rips emotions from the audience.  Every step of Médée’s journey is felt in the house and reflected in the severe, cold and utterly appropriate set by Jean Hazel. First there is her ghost-like attitude as she does nothing but mourn from dusk ‘till dawn.  Then her sorrow turns into frustration; screams of pain coming from the bottom of her soul tear strips of skin off the audience and leaves what's left with goosebumps.  From then on rage begins to grow in her and soon takes over. Vengeance blinds her; even blurring her love of her children. She now plots to get rid of Créon and his daughter. In her terrible scheme she finds no choice but to kill Jason’s new wife and his sons - her own blood.

As Aramburo describes it in his program notes, Médée now becomes a sort of witch of medieval times, a kind of Lilith. Médée has only one thing in mind: to finish what she started - the slaughter of the two young siblings.  Laplante plays the torture of this loathsome thought - focusing on the kind of life her children will never have - then gives herself completely to the cold-bloodedness of the crime. 

What is the audience left with?  An understanding of Médée's courage, sorrow, anger and incomprehension - all of these emotions with a pungent aftertaste that makes us, literally, want to vomit.  

Not a production for the weak at heart but one that must be seen.

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