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National Theatre Live: Medea (2014)

Medea, a woman stricken with grief after learning that her ex-husband has decided to remarry is faced with impossible choices in this exhilarating and breathtaking adaptation of Medea.


Carrie Cracknell


Euripides (play), Ben Power (adaptation)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen McCrory ... Medea
Danny Sapani ... Jason
Michaela Coel ... Nurse
Martin Turner ... Kreon
Dominic Rowan ... Aegeus
Clemmie Sveaas Clemmie Sveaas ... Kreusa
Toby Wharton Toby Wharton ... Jason's Attendant
Simon Desborough Simon Desborough ... Ensemble
Adrian Grove Adrian Grove ... Ensemble
Lorna Brown ... Chorus
Vivien Carter Vivien Carter ... Chorus
Amy Griffiths ... Chorus
Hazel Holder ... Chorus
Jane Leaney ... Chorus
Caroline Martin ... Chorus


Medea, a woman stricken with grief after learning that her ex-husband has decided to remarry is faced with impossible choices in this exhilarating and breathtaking adaptation of Medea.

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4 September 2014 (UK) See more »

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NTLive: Medea See more »


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User Reviews

Interesting 'Medea'
26 June 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Absolutely love going to the National Theatre Live live screenings. It is always great seeing productions of old favourites, nearly always never less than solid, and also seeing some new discoveries (not a fan of a few of them but most are interesting or more) or productions of plays rarely performed for various reasons that are dependent on the play. Love the authenticity of the atmosphere but as has been said more than once love the accessibility equally.

This production of 'Medea' is intriguing for it being National Theatre's first ever staging of it in its 50 year history, so along with being so immensely fond of live screenings of theatre, opera and ballet that was reason enough to see it. Also like Helen McCrory very much as an actress and her other National Theatre Live performance in Terrence Rattigan's 'The Deep Blue Sea' was nothing short of brilliant. Did have worries admittedly though as to whether 'Medea' would work in modern dress.

Found this production of 'Medea' interesting and at its best terrifyingly powerful, but also felt that it could have been better with there being some oddities that detracted from the drama to gratuitous effect rather than adding to or enhancing it. On the whole though it did work in modern dress (just about) and saved by a searing lead performance in particular.

Starting with the good things, it was a quite visually striking production. The modern dress doesn't look ugly at all or at odds with the text, and while the split level set was a little over-symbolic in places it was striking and atmospherically lit. The music was suitably haunting and doesn't work against anything on stage, even though the production would have been just as effective without it.

Euripedes' text is still thoughtful and has a wide mix of emotions, it's old text but a nice job is done making it accessible to anybody unfamiliar with it. The story is an ancient one, but it doesn't feel ancient here. There are some terrifyingly powerful moments, almost all with Medea and with the children, and it is taking no prisoners and pulling no punches staging. Which is great because that is what the story is too. The climactic moments still shock.

McCrory in the fiendishly difficult title role gives a performance of a lfetime, one of her greatest ever. Have not used the word exceptional in a while, but will use it to describe McCrory's performance, which is always powerful and quite frightening. Yet there is also a surprising vulnerability to stop her from being one-dimensional, an achievement considering her reprehensible actions. The children are moving and while Danny Sapani's Jason is not on the same level he is still commanding once he gets going. Martin Turner and Dominic Rowen do quite well too.

Not everything works though. The staging for the chorus is just weird and completely at odds with everything else, it doesn't even look great. The constant convulsions and such got tiresome quickly and made me feel uncomfortable, they didn't look comfortable doing it either. The final speech was completely out of place and almost patronising, delivered in such an uninterested manner.

Didn't find the rest of the cast anywhere near to the same standard, found them to be at a standard that was the complete anti-thesis, meaning pretty bad. Worst of all was Michaela Coel, who looked and sounded utterly bored as the Nurse.

In summary, inconsistent and intriguing, worth seeing for McCrory's performance alone when looking past the oddities present. 7/10

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