One of the most powerful and enduring of Greek tragedies, Medea centers on the myth of Jason, leader of the Argonauts, who has won the dragon guarded treasure of the Golden Fleece with the help of the sorceress Medea Having married Medea and fathered her two children, Jason abandons her for a favorable match, never suspecting the terrible revenge she will take Euripides masterly portrayal of the motives fiercely driving Medea s pursuit of vengeance for her husband s insult and betrayal has held theater audiences spellbound for than twenty centuries Rex Warner s authoritative translation brings this great classic of world literature vividly to lifeReprint of the John Lane, The Bodley Head Limited, London,edition Rachel Cusk was invited by London s Almeida Theatre to write a new version of Euripides s Medea The new play is both thoroughly modern and bears the stamp of personality of this talented novelist and memoirist That she fiercely loves her children, two boys, is apparent She followed Euripides s formula, creating a storyline which places the blame differently.If you remember the story, Medea kills her sons when her unfaithful husband marries the young well tended daughter of Creon Considerin Rachel Cusk was invited by London s Almeida Theatre to write a new version of Euripides s Medea The new play is both thoroughly modern and bears the stamp of personality of this talented novelist and memoirist That she fiercely loves her children, two boys, is apparent She followed Euripides s formula, creating a storyline which places the blame differently.If you remember the story, Medea kills her sons when her unfaithful husband marries the young well tended daughter of Creon Considering how difficult it would be for anyone to contemplate such an act, and considering Cusk was severely castigated by readers for her memoir about motherhood, A Life s Work, Cusk manages to make her work, like Euripides s work, many things at the same time strong, agonized, righteous, and tragic Commentaries on the original Greek play had different interpretations of Medea herself One made her out to be a young lover who changed her view of her husband when she d had children The things that she liked about her husband when he was a young man annoy her when she s older When she learned he was unfaithful and was looking for something new, she poisoned his new wife and killed the husband and sons out of pique and revenge Anuanced interpretation, suggests Medea pursued her ambitious middle aged husband Jason hotly, helping him to secure the fleece of the Golden Ram and thus develop a reputation as one of the most daring heroes of Hellas But Medea was an foreigner and when she returned to Jason s home with him, her combative and fiery alien nature grated on the conservative natives She grew tiresome for Jason and he sought another, younger, wealthier alliance that would increase his standing Then Medea sought revenge.Cusk s Medea has less backstory, though from the voices of the chorus a group of mothers meeting while their kids playdate, and who cross paths picking up their children at the school gates , we learn that Medea is not liked She s smart, but no one really likes her writing, if they read it at all She s opinionated, which doesn t work if one wants a marriage to run smoothly she asked for it She s a snooty cow because she doesn t always recognize the women in different settings, her mind on other things Cusk slips in a Holocaust joke She gone very Belsen, referring to how Medea has stopped eating It s called the divorce diet Meanwhile, Medea turns to the audience and makes her case A bad thing has happened to meYou re scared that if I name it, it might happen to you, too Sleep, woman, sleep You won t even feel it when he creeps to your sideand slits your throat What s that you say What about love Yes, you re loving souls aren t you You love the whole world, You love your little hearts out.It s all right, you can hate me.Go ahead, feel free.It s so much easier than hating yourselves.Medea has other voices speaking with her, onesintimate the Tutor and the Nurse and the Cleaner The Cleaner is clear eyed and clear spoken and shares what she learned from her mother the best revenge is to be happy Pretend if you don t feel it Women are good at pretending.The eventual playing out of the story is unique yet retains the pain of the original We hear Creon slyly telling Medea You know, you look completely different when you smile while she is in the midst of her life s most curdling trial There s the sourness again The problem with you is you don t know how to love an unloving woman is a freak The audience undoubtedly feels stress levels rising as the characters have interleaved speaking parts talking over one another If you ve ever been witness to a disagreement, this is one after another after another Any uncomfortableness we feel when Jason and Medea are speaking is relieved by Nurse, Tutor, and Cleaner pointing to the absurdities of male expectations But the best joke goes to Aegeus, who will become Medea s second husband Aegeus, speaking to a Medea distraught about the money Jason expects from the marriage says he understands Jason is about to get his needs assuaged by a wealthy heiress This word comes as a surprise in the midst of conversation and surely would elicit a burst of laughter in any theatre The word joke may only work in English, but its excessive formality and sound similarity to massage is a perfect bomb.Cusk s originality in portraying the oldest stories of all love and infidelity continues to entrance I am evenimpressed now with her fictional trilogy Outline than I was before I read whatever I could of her work This author is special In a book talk at Politics Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C., Cusk says a criterion to use when creating is that a work should be useful Exactly That s why her work, her honesty, her humor, her willingness to go there is so exciting What she does keeps us alive Stronger than lover s love is lover s hate Incurable, in each, the wounds they make Euripides writes a masterpiece of love, betrayal and revenge The theme of Medea is the extravagant hatred, for the once bewildering love of the heroine for Jason was transformed when he repudiates her to marry another Medea had given up everything for the man she was led by the Gods to love above even herself She saved him from certain death, she left the safety of her kingdom, she even killed her own bStronger than lover s love is lover s hate Incurable, in each, the wounds they make Euripides writes a masterpiece of love, betrayal and revenge The theme of Medea is the extravagant hatred, for the once bewildering love of the heroine for Jason was transformed when he repudiates her to marry another Medea had given up everything for the man she was led by the Gods to love above even herself She saved him from certain death, she left the safety of her kingdom, she even killed her own brother All in the name of her love for Jason To be abandoned for another woman Medea does not passively sit back and accept the injustice of Jason s actions she is definitely not silent in the face of injustice When she feels persecuted by man or men she asserts her own power, assuming she has just as much right to act in this way as any man doesOf all creatures that can feel and think,we women are the worst treated things alive The play evolves from a heartbroken, melancholic Medea, betrayed wife who languished in bed and incapable of even raising her eyelids, apparently resigned to her fate, to an effervescent and sanguine woman with a terrible desire for revenge that will not stop at infanticide for the utter destruction of her once once loved husband It is interesting to note that compared to the majority of Greek tragedies, in Medea the sins and errors committed by Jason and Medea are due to their own actions and not blame it on their destiny or on some avenging God.Medea is certainly a terrible play, infanticide is not an easy theme, to read about a mother who kills her children is no easy themeThey are the sun that lights his worldSo I will plunge him into darkness But revenge here has assumes life on its own, and should prevailI understand too well the dreadful actI m going to commit, but my judgementcan t check my anger, and that incitesthe greatest evils human beings do It is intimate, powerful and visceral In the play Medea s designation as a wife or mother is secondary to her own feelings as a womanA woman like me What am I like that s different from you or any manShe appropriates an identity as an individual subject equal to the men who surround her, equally powerful and equally wrong If she despises Jason for his ill use of her, does she not commit equal crime with so many innocents to obtain her revenge However, that is the essence of the play Hard as the theme may be, this is the ultimate revenge drama Once again, I couldn t help but be enthralled by the searing intensity of Euripedes tragedy Our tragedy, however, is that today we still witness crimes that remind us of this Greek play. Medea, with her suffering, her hatred, her cruelty, has been present this week in my life Her myth living in various guises of representation And all engaged me in various degrees and manner It all started on Monday when, touring the Thyssen Musem in the search of paintings which had to do with the idea of Travel , I stopped to admire this painting, The Argonauts Leaving Colchis, by Ercole de Roberti ca 1480 This depicts the earlier part of the Myth the adventure in Colchis, The Voyage Medea, with her suffering, her hatred, her cruelty, has been present this week in my life Her myth living in various guises of representation And all engaged me in various degrees and manner It all started on Monday when, touring the Thyssen Musem in the search of paintings which had to do with the idea of Travel , I stopped to admire this painting, The Argonauts Leaving Colchis, by Ercole de Roberti ca 1480 This depicts the earlier part of the Myth the adventure in Colchis, The Voyage of Argo The Argonautica As the lovely Medea, in read, is already in the Argos, this represents the return trip with Golden Fleece on board There is no hint of their dark future On Tuesday I watched Pasolini s classic, from 1969,with the magnificent Maria Callas impersonating Medea Pasolini s account gives us the full myth, from the youth of Jason under the care of the Centaur, until the final gruesome deed perpetrated by Medea What enraptured me of this film was Pasolini s ability to portray an ominous barbaric kingdom Sinister in all its splendour For splendorous the filming certainly is Just to admire his choice of locations is it worth watching this film These are G reme in Capadocia, with those haunting caves and extended yellow land the imposing and Aleppo fortress, which we may very well lose as Syria is now under the control of other dark forces and parts of the delicate Camposanto in Pisa Beautiful.The only time Callas agreed to act without singing was for this Medea She and her director succeed in giving us a cold hearted Medea, possessed by her hatred and full of feelings of revenge, but who is in control of hers and other s destiny Disheartening.Then I finally landed in and read a text, the major literary source, Euripides play The tragedy begins at the end This is Medea s revenge There were two aspects that drew my attention most in Euripides One was his pride in the Greek civilization, for he justifies Medea s barbarity as precisely that, the act of a barbarian Impossibly expected from a Greek.And second his lines on the plight of women Medea s lmost out of a feminist pamphlet, but this is Euripides stylus Of all things with life and understanding,We women are the most unfortunate,First, we need a husband, someone we getFor an excessive price He then becomesThe ruler of our bodies This misfortuneAdds stilltroubles to the grief we have,Then comes the crucial struggle this husbandWe ve selected, is he good or bad For a divorce loses women all respect,Yet we can t refuse to take a husband,Then, when she goes into her husband s home,With its new rules and different customs,She needs a prophet s skill to sort out the manWhose bed she shares My latest Medea was last night, when I attended a performance of Seneca s version Medea This play focuseson Medea s abilities as a magician and zeroes in sharply into her hatred and rage than does Euripides The quality of the performance wavered between some less convincing passages and some truly brilliant ones I withheld my interest when hysteria took over the tragic, but there was an unforgettable representation of magical rites If the play had begun with an astonishing enactment of the beginning of the Universe the ancient Greek Big Bang , when out of the amorphous chaos a series of deities emerged, the stage later offered Medea in her rage engaged in a metamorphosis through which she conjured up her powers A frenzy of mud and voices, of dislocated movements and terrorizing tremors build up to a climatic trance, and Medea, becoming one with the goddess Earth, adjured the destruction of the Kingdom of Corinth.To my astonishment I found myself gradually slouching in my chair, pulled down by my daze and holding my breath clearly I could not resist being dragged by the intoxicating trance.Unforgettable There is at least oneMedea waiting for my attentionChrista Wolfs Medea for when I have recovered Medea is a play about society, and how it deals with people who do not fit into the dominant cultural code It is about power, marriage, betrayal, hate and revenge as well, but the most important aspect is the typical fate of a strong and intelligent woman, following her husband to his home country She is treated as an intruder and danger to society, mainly because she is different, and knows things other people do not want to see She is the witch that narrowminded provincial men like to hunt Medea is a play about society, and how it deals with people who do not fit into the dominant cultural code It is about power, marriage, betrayal, hate and revenge as well, but the most important aspect is the typical fate of a strong and intelligent woman, following her husband to his home country She is treated as an intruder and danger to society, mainly because she is different, and knows things other people do not want to see She is the witch that narrowminded provincial men like to hunt, the threat to traditional family structures that scares the community to the point of becoming evil She is the wronged women who has to bear the shame and the consequences of her husband s weakness and treachery I have thought of teaching the play with a global citizenship focus after seeing recent developments in the world, as being foreign once again has a great impact on your life, your perception in mainstream society, and your outlook on the future.Medea is the archetype of a person who won t accept injustice without fighting back The way she chooses to do this, according to Euripides, causes acute nausea of course, which might explain why her social suffering and fight against an oppressive mainstream community has not becomewell known and symbolic.Christa Wolf came up with an interpretation of Medea that took away the guilt of infanticide and left the failure of the strong, vocal woman as the main focus I liked that idea, as it isacceptable to modern readers However, nothing beats Euripides complex Medea in my eyes The brutality of her fate matches the brutality of human beings and their response to change and diversity