By Robert Simonson
10 Dec 2002
The Fiona Shaw-Deborah Warner production of Euripides' Medea will conclude an odyssey that has taken it from Dublin to London to North America and then Broadway, when it officially opens at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre Dec. 10, following previews from Dec. 4.
Brooklyn saw this Medea before Manhattan did. The staging was a hit at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where is had a short, sold-out run Oct. 1-12. Roger Berlind, Scott Rudin, Daryl Roth and James M. Nederlander are producing the limited Broadway run, which concludes Feb. 22, 2003.
Medea won two 2001 Evening Standard Awards, including one for Shaw, for its 2000 West End run. The mounting originated at Dublin's Abbey Theatre. Warner directs the bloody rendition. Kenneth McLeish and Frederic Raphael did the translation.
Shaw and Warner also worked together on The Waste Land, which played New York's 42nd Street prior to its restoration. Since then, they collaborated on The Powerbook at the Royal National Theatre. The piece, adapted from a novel by Jeanette Winterson, was devised by Winterson, Warner and Shaw and starred Shaw.
Medea also stars Jonathan Cake, Derek Hutchinson, Joseph Mydell, Struan Rodger, Siobhan McCarthy, Robin Laing, Kirsten Campbell, Joyce Henderson, Rachel Issac, Pauline Lynch and Susan Solman.
The last Medea to reach Broadway was that of Diana Rigg, who won a 1994 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her turn in the Jonathan Kent-directed production. Other famous New York Medeas include Zoe Caldwell, who won the Tony in 1982; Gloria Foster, who was New York's first African-American Medea in a 1965 Off-Broadway staging; and Judith Anderson, who won a Tony for her work in a 1948 mounting.
Euripides is one of the three major playwrights of ancient Greek drama (the others being Aeschylus and Sophocles) and acknowledged to be the most modern in temperament, a cynical observer who displays empathy for his luckless characters and little faith in society, fate or religion (for which characteristics comic playwright Aristophanes often satirized him).
He lived 484 to 406 B.C. Nineteen of his plays survive, the best known being The Trojan Women, Hippolytus, Orestes, The Bacchae and Electra, which was seen on Broadway a few seasons back in a rendering starring Zoe Wanamaker. Medea came around 431 B.C., and, today, may be his most frequently-staged drama, owing to the juicy, psychologically rich role it provides for mature classical actresses.
For ticket information, call (212) 307-4100.