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Posts Tagged ‘Clemmie Sveaas’

The first Medea I saw was 29 years ago in Japanese in an Edinburgh University courtyard in the open air in the pouring rain with the title role played by a man! Medea’s exit was in one of those hydraulic arms they use to reach the higher floors of buildings. It was an evening I will never forget. This production came to the Olivier stage, where this new modern adaptation is now staged, two years later.

Ben Power’s modern adaptation takes fewer liberties than Mike Bartlett’s 2012 touring version (which I liked, and which featured Rachael Sterling, whose mother Diana Rigg I had seen in the same part twenty years earlier!) and it’s the most credible and chilling version of this 2500 year-old play that I’ve seen. You really do believe this woman could kill four people, including her two sons.

Carrie Cracknell, one of our best new directors, and designer Tom Scutt, set it in a shabby building with French windows leading out to a wood and an upper level where Jason’s wedding to Kreusa takes place behind glass. There’s a large chorus of thirteen women looking spooky in matching frocks, a brilliant soundscape by Goldfrapp and Michaela Coel delivers the prologue and epilogue superbly in complete silence. For once, my front row seat added to the intensity and engagement with the piece.

I’ve always thought Helen McCrory would make a brilliant Lady Macbeth or Medea and she certainly does with the latter. She invests her interpretation with bucket-loads of emotionality, often visibly shaking, eyes welled up, nose running, tears flowing. It’s a stunning performance. Danny Sapani is a commanding Jason, more restrained but able to make the switch from anger to forgiveness completely believable. There’s luxury casting in support, with Dominic Rowan and Martin Turner as the two kings. Clemmie Sveaas’ Kreusa’s demise in a poisoned costume is an extraordinary dance of death.

This is a riveting 90 minutes, perfect for the Olivier stage and an opportunity to see a fine actress give a career defining performance. Unmissable indeed.

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This ‘new ballet’ is really a dance drama with, as someone we met after the show accurately pointed out, not enough dance!

It’s based on a Hans Christian Anderson short story, but even with polymath Matthew Dunster on board as Dramaturge, it wasn’t always clear how what was happening on stage related to the story. It was only after I read the story (as opposed to the synopsis, which doesn’t really help) in the programme after the second part did I really understand the second part! This narrative flow isn’t helped by the two intervals (presumably in order to facilitate scene and costume changes and dancer rests) and a lot of moments where a screen comes down and you are left with just projections.

That said, I liked the Pet Shop Boys score, which alternated between technopop and orchestral and technopoporchestral and Katrina Lindsay’s designs and Tal Rosner’s projections, with a nod to Rodchenko, are terrific. What dancing there is is good, but in truth the talents of Royal Ballet star Ivan Putrov, New Adventures Aaron Sillis and the lovely Clemmie Sveaas as the Princess aren’t really exploited.

Choreographer Javier De Frutos has created a dance drama spectacle which was always watchable and listenable but only occasionally fluid. If it comes back (which, based on a sold out 10-day run, it inevitably will) and you go, be sure to read the story first.

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