Medea: A New Approach to the Classic Play

Student Body President Pax Lloyd-Burchett and first-year student Wani Pandey sit down and discuss Reed’s Medea

The Reed College Theatre Department’s adaptation of Euripides’ Medea opened November 8 and runs through November 16. Directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Jaclyn Pryor and performed by Reed students, this production investigates the line between fate and free will. Quest writers Pax Lloyd-Burchett and Wani Pandey attended the first weekend of performances and discussed their thoughts on the show.

WANI: What was your first take of the play? First impressions?

PAX: It wasn’t really my cup of tea. There’s aspects of theater that are high art sometimes, and it seemed like this was more of the high art, commentary about the very structure and nature of a play. How everyone introduced their character name, one example being, “I am playing the tutor.” It seemed to be more like a commentary about the nature of theatre and using Medea as a genre. And because of that, it felt less like a good interpretation of Medea to me because I’ve read the play before and so it felt to me like they were running through plot points, “Okay, so the first thing we gotta do is Medea has to meet with Creon and that’s really important, obviously. Okay, we’ll do that.” That was a cool moment, but it felt more like they were checking the Medea checklist, and using Medea as a way to talk about narrative structure more broadly. 

WANI: So I did an interview with Jaclyn Pryor for the TBA Festival. When I spoke to them about theater, we got onto this conversation about revealing the mechanisms behind the play. And I saw that throughout the play, but maybe I’m taking this theory the wrong way. I quite liked the showing. Maybe it’s because after watching Redwood by the Portland Center Stage at the Armory seeing Medea was such a different take on another serious topic? I mean maybe killing kids versus genealogy is different but it grabbed my attention in a way and I think I went with it because I knew the story of Medea. But I hadn’t read it, so it was very interesting to see it performed.

PAX: I think like walking through it now, it seems more like Medea was a tool, a means to an end. And I think the end is fine. But it made it seem like it wasn’t really Medea, it was a show separate from Medea. Also, I liked the singing; I feel like we should talk about that.

WANI: I also enjoyed the singing. I liked the call and response of it. I really liked the crowd. That’s one thing that I was sort of watching and it seemed very haunting to see the crowd and to hear the call and response and I think that’s a big part of why I liked Medea. It set the mood and it did really well in executing it. I mean I think there were points where I think — like the cake, I didn’t feel like it fit the mood of the play — but like the singing and the lighting and with the microphones, I quite enjoyed like the whole audio visual experience of it.

PAX: Yeah, I think that if you, if you go and you’re like, “I would like to see theater.” Then you’ll then you’ll be like, “Yes, I am satiated.” But if you would like to spend 45 minutes being entertained, I don’t think this is your 45. 

WANI: So are you saying it’s too brainy?

PAX: I mean, yeah, like there’s not a lot of raw enjoyment. 

WANI: I think it was intentional, that’s what I liked about the piece. I felt like everything, even if I might not have agreed with a choice or something, it still felt deliberate.

PAX: My only real problem which is really kind of nitpicky is that I wish — this is also just a matter of time and everyone in that show being a full time college student — I wish they had time to nail the synchronization. But that’s not really feasible on this timescale because it takes a really long time to get that many people moving together.

WANI: I didn’t really think about it until you mentioned it. I think the part that bothered me more about the crowd was with the technical layout. I feel like I could have gotten a better effect if I had watched it from the balcony. Because I was sitting in the corner, the play being in the round was very interesting, but it also was…I think it’s just tricky from a visual aspect.

PAX: I think it might even be valuable to see it multiple times.

WANI: I think I might go again this weekend. If I have time. 

PAX: One thing I will say I’m a little bit upset about is that Tyler Perry wasn’t in this one.

Illustrations by Sizheng Song

Illustrations by Sizheng Song

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