“MEDEA” by Evripides, La Cambre, Brussels, Belgium 1986
Evripides’ classical tragedy tells the story of Medea’s marriage that breaks after her husband, Jason, decides to marry the daughter of king Creon. As revenge Medea kills both the king and his daughter and the two sons she has with Jason. After a last dialog with a desperate Jason Medea disappears in a wagon sent by the sun god. Medea is one of the very few female murderers in classical literature and she is one of the murderers that have not been condemned. The wagon of the sun god sends her in exile.
If one reads the text as a philosophical statement about human relations as such rather than a psychological marriage drama, we can find a key to the fact that Evripides lets her go without punishment: The marriage with Jason must be understood as a metaphor of human relations as such. When Jason breaks out of the marriage he leaves Medea outside the system of human relations. Without relations man cannot live. To live alone in the world is impossible. The performance seeks to express this notion of being set aside, deprived from any connection with the society. The broken marriage leaves Medea in a state of nothingness. In this state exists only exists.
The performance is build up around a spatial metaphor of the broken marriage that leaves Medea in a state of nothingness. The space is black and empty. A square quadrate of glass in a thin metal frame is the only object in the space. At the back of the glass that in the beginning has been used for video projections we see Jason. After the prologue he breaks a hole in the glass and walks through out in the dark. The play is performed with this broken glass quadrate as a constant reminder of Jason’s action. Medea walks on the broken glass and shares her thoughts with the chorus of women. Microphones on the floor capture the sounds of walking on broken glass. The singers’ voices are amplified and modulated. Loudspeakers placed around the room send the modulated voices from unexpected angels. After Medea has killed the king and his daughter, TV-monitors descend from above into the space. They all show a realistic news report from the castle. In the last scene Jason comes running to their house and bangs on the door to speak with Medea. He bangs on the glass and breaks the remaining structure. He starts bleeding. A glass cube descends above him. Inside we see Medea and their two dead children. Her voice has changed, is unrecognisable. The performance ends with a flash of light as Medea disappears in the wagon of the sun god.