On Thursday last week I went into Inverness to see a live streaming of the last performance of Medea at the National Theatre. What a thrill! We could even hear the audience in London settling as we sank into our own, extremely comfortable, seats. So exciting to be watching this without all the hassle and expense of actually traveling to London.
I hadn’t read or seen Medea before although I knew the ghastly story. If it hadn’t been for the exceptional circumstances I doubt I would have wanted to put myself through the horrors of watching a mother decide to murder her own sons in pursuit of revenge. I certainly didn’t expect to have any sympathy with her. Before the performance we heard Helen McCrory say she didn’t think Medea was crazy or psychotic. I listened in disbelief. Half way through her portrayal of this woman my feelings changed.
Later I read the program notes. A psychologist says that the first six moths of marital breakdown are the most dangerous time for the children of that marriage. Killing them in revenge for the pain caused by the separating partner is not unknown.
The closing image of Medea dragging herself off into her terrible future, her own body bowed low, distorted, by the weight of the bodies of her dead sons was something I will never forget.