Media (er, Medea) saturation


By Euripides
Directed by Michael Vincent Doane
Flatiron Productions
Duality Theatre
119 West 23rd Street
Equity showcase (closes Nov. 16)
Review by Scott Vogel

Dear Medea,

We regret to inform you that -- due to the current surplus of child-killers -- your dramatic license has been temporarily revoked. This, we concede, is not your fault. You could not have predicted the epidemic of Susan Smiths, Prom Moms, or babies found in dumpsters behind Comfort Inns. Yet though we are in eternal sympathy with your poetic and (now doubly) tragic plight, the truth, however painful, is this: you're old hat. Infanticide, Medea, just ain't what it used to be.

Naturally, it is not easy to deliver this news to you, you who've already "suffered things worthy of many tears." But before you hitch up those dragons and channel your (justly) celebrated anger in our direction, permit us a few words of consolation.

A temporary suspension of Medea productions will at least curtail the rise of well-meaning but flat stagings of your story. As an example, take the current Flatiron Medea. Michael Vincent Doane plays you, and he's a man, but no prob, you're used to all-male casts from the old days. The thing is, the guy's got boundless reserves of rage in him, a definite asset when you're Medea, but he seems devoid of the vulnerability that makes an audience pity you. Under such circumstances, Jason (Christopher MacEwen) would be right to dump you, I'm afraid, inasmuch as your manner was one-note insolent (and your dress contained an unattractively besequined midriff).

On the other hand, a properly sinister, almost funereal atmosphere was created by Michael Schloegl's candlelit stage pictures. You would have loved the slow, dramatic fadeout at the end, and rightly so.

Much of the action occurred in full light, however, a fact that allowed greater scrutiny of the actors than they were perhaps aware. While you were downstage riffing on multiple homicide, for instance, your good and faithful nurse (Bryce Jenson) was not exactly riveted; instead, she seemed regularly distracted by something offstage, and once appeared to almost nod off! The chorus -- alas! unhappy woman! -- was similarly nonplused by your rants.

Though Marcus Woollen was clearly listening, Thomas Hays and Philip Lynch were not quite ... feeling your pain. Perhaps as the run proceeds, the director will reconsider the complicated and shifting relationship they have with you.

Still, toward the end of the hour, Woollen doubled as the messenger, and things began to pick up. His fine recounting of the murder of Creon (George Spaventa) and his daughter was impassioned and moving, anything but woolen. (Also featuring Richard Kohn and Tom Wagner.)

In closing, apologies again for sending you off on what we hope will be a brief hiatus. You are, it seems, a casualty of both the voracious tabloid media (which incidentally is how Mr. Wagner pronounced your name) and the overweening ambitions of novice theater groups. Time, it is hoped, will restore grandeur to your story. And bring a better project to the obviously talented Flatiron troupe.

Yours in Attic tragedy--

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Costumes: 1
Sets: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2
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Copyright 1997 Scott Vogel