I Try “Theatre”

A Non-Review of ADC Theatre’s “Medea” and Cambridge Arts Theatre’s “Antigone/Lysistrata”

After writing this soul-sucker, I’m all reviewed out for the week. But it was totally worth it, because the Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge called my review “fab and thoughtful” on Twitter. I’m fab! And thoughtful!

This non-review will not be thoughtful, but it will be fab. The article-writing stops, but the fabness does not stop. And you know what else doesn’t stop? The theatregoing.

Bless my cotton socks!

On Thursday, I went to see ADC Theatre’s production of Euripides’ Medea at the Corpus Playhouse.

(SPOILER ALERT: Dead babies.)

(Actually, I had no intention of mentioning anything important about the plot, so that spoiler alert was unnecessary. And probably did the spoiling that wasn’t going to happen otherwise. Isn’t irony grand?)

In the spirit of many contemporary theatre productions, and anything that Baz Luhrmann directs, Medea had its fair share of deliberate anachronisms. After serving Cocoa Pops (read: refined sugar) to her sons for breakfast, Medea gives them an iPad to play with, because she’s clearly going, “Fuck the potential brain-addling radiation, I need you two to leave me alone for like five minutes. Go play Angry Birds.” She’s a bad mother, so you’re not all that surprised when she turns out to be psychobitch.

(Did that require a spoiler alert? Oh well.)

It also featured some unexpected lesbian undertones among the Chorus: at one point — during a very dramatic scene, actually — the women of the Chorus suddenly broke into an interpretive dance which involved groping each other, some getting more action than others. I’m sure there’s something profound to say here, but I’m not going to be the one to say it because I know roughly as much about theatre as I do about art history. NOTHING.

(The lesbian undertones among the Chorus are not in the original Ancient Greek. I asked an expert afterwards.)

(You’d think that I’d know this shit automatically by now. “Ah yes,” I should have been able to say while the Chorus slid into playful homoeroticism, “that does not feature in the original Ancient Greek, which is the only way to read Euripides, really.” Nope! Bad Classicist.)

Most notably, this production of Medea showcased some truly godawful acting. The (young) girl behind me actually started giggling when Jason started bawling his eyes out, because she may be prepubescent, man, but even she knows when the acting ain’t cutting the mustard. Medea mostly screamed her lines and did weird fiddly stuff with her hands.

(Act badly is not in the original stage direction either. I asked an expert.)

(Okay, I actually feel really bad now and hope that the actors/actresses never read this because they really did try their best!)

I had fun nevertheless, possibly because my friend and I looked at each other and mouthed “MEN ARE THE WORST” whenever Jason came on stage and did something stupid, and whenever Aegeus came on stage and did something stupid, and really, whenever any man came on stage and did what men do best. (Stupid stuff. If you needed the explanation, you’re probably a MAN!) Although another friend went the following day and allegedly concluded, “That’s an hour and a half I’ll never get back.”

YMMV.

Tonight I decided that I hadn’t had my fill of classical theatre and went to the double billing of Sophocles’ Antigone and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. This is the Cambridge Greek Play’s — whatever the adjective for “every three years” is…triennial? Fuck it — play, performed in the actual Ancient Greek! I didn’t know that anyone spoke Ancient Greek anymore! Oh wait.

Everything was pretty standard, except the parts in Lysistrata featuring Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Some of Johnson’s lines were actually surtitled “Blah blah blah bloody women blah blah blah misogyny Brek brek brek brek brek Brexit” (I think), which must have been a pain to translate into Ancient Greek for the actor to actually say! πάθει μάθος.

And at the end, they flashed my supervisor’s name and phone number in the surtitles, a reminder (possibly fabricated by my subconscious) that I was not in the library at that moment.

But at least I got this nifty little trinket:

Translation: “Therefore we must abstain from the penis” (Chae 2016).

Yay culture!

Yung In Chae is the Associate Editor of Eidolon and an MPhil Candidate in Classics at the University of Cambridge, as unbelievable as that is. She is 50–65% water but for some reason always dehydrated.

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