Medea

Play by Euripides. Medea is a wife and a mother. For the sake of her husband, Jason, shes left her home and borne two sons in exile. But when he abandons his family for a new life, Medea faces banishment and separation from her children. Cornered, she begs for one days grace. Its time enough. She exacts an appalling revenge and destroys everything she holds dear. Medea is a powerful ancient Greek tragedy.

1948: Globe Theatre with Eileen Herlie

1977: Old Vic Theatre (Greek) with Melina Mercouri CANCELLED

1985: Almeida Theatre with Linda Bassett

1986: Young Vic with Eileen Atkins

1986: Lyric Hammersmith with Madhur Jaffrey

1987: NT Olivier Theatre (Japanese) - Tokusaburo Arashi

1992/3: Almeida / Wyndham's Theatres with Diana Rigg

2001: Queen's Theatre with Fiona Shaw

2014: NT Olivier Theatre with Helen McCrory

2015: Almeida Theatre with Kate Fleetwood

Marina Carr's play By The Bog of Cats is loosely based on Medea.


1948: West End Revival - Eileen Herlie

Opened 29 September 1948, Closed 10 November 1948 at the Globe Theatre (now Gielgud Theatre)

Presented in an adaptation by Robinson Jeffers.

The cast included Eileen Herlie as 'Medea', Cathleen Nesbitt as 'Nurse', Lee Fox as 'Tutor', Robert Marsden as 'Aegeus', Hector MacGregor as 'Creon', Ralph Michael as 'Jason', and Robin Lloyd as 'Slave to Jason'.

Directed by John Gielgud, with designs by Leslie Hurry, and music by Tibor Serly.


1977: West End Revival (Greek) - Melina Mercouri CANCELLED

Old Vic 12 September 1977 at the Old Vic Theatre CANCELLED

This production, to be presented in Greek by the State Theatre of Northern Greece and directed by Minos Volanakis, for a short run at the Old Vic Theatre was unfortunately cancelled due to the illness of the actress Melina Mercouri who was due to play the title role.


1985: London Revival - Linda Bassett

Opened 7 May 1985, Closed 15 May 1985 at the Almeida Theatre

Presented in an adaptation by the company from Rex Warner's translation, with prologue by Bernard Strother.

The cast included Linda Bassett as 'Medea', Kate Fitzgerald as 'Nurse', Bernard Strother as 'Tutor', Frank Baker as 'Jason', Michael Mears as 'Creon', Bernard Strother as 'Aegeus', and Vincent Ebrahim as 'Messenger'.

Directed by Nancy Meckler, with designs by Annie Smart, and lighting by Richard Moffatt.

Presented by the Leicester Haymarket Studio Company.


1986: London Revival - Eileen Atkins

Previewed 26 March 1986, Opened 1 April 1986, Closed 19 April 1986 at the Young Vic

Presented in an adaptation by Jeremy Brooks.

The cast included Eileen Atkins as 'Medea', Margaret John as 'Nurse', Christopher Burgess as 'Tutor', Leon Herbart as 'Jason', Clifton Jones as 'Creon', Mark Heath as 'Aegeus', and Leo Wringer as 'Messenger'. The cast also included Sharon D Clarke.

Directed by Toby Robertson, with designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by Pat Nelder, and music by Anthony Ingle.

Presented by Theatr Clwyd Production.


1986: London Revival - Madhur Jaffrey

Previewed 28 May 1986, Opened 30 May 1986, Closed 5 July 1986 at the Lyric Hammersmith

Presented in an adaptation by Philip Vellacott.

The cast included Madhur Jaffrey as 'Medea', Darlene Johnson as 'Nurse', Philip Bretherton as 'Tutor', Julian Glover as 'Jason', Jerome Willis as 'Creon', John Burgess as 'Aegeus', and Robert Reynolds as 'Messenger'.

Directed by Mary McMurray, with sets by Jane Martin, costumes by Iona McLeish, lighting by Nick Chelton, and music by Richard Blackford.


1987: London Revival (Japanese) - Tokusaburo Arashi

Opened 24 September 1987, Closed 26 September 1987 at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre

Presented in Japanese for three performances, in a translation by Mutsuo Takahashi, by the Ninagawa Company, Tokyo.

The cast included Tokusaburo Arashi as 'Medea'.

Directed by Yukio Ninagawa.

The Ninagawa Company also presented seven performances of Macbeth at the NT's Lyttelton Theatre from 17 to 22 September 1987.


1992/3: West End London Revival - Diana Rigg

Previewed 12 September 1992, Opened 16 September, Closed 24 October 1992 at the Almeida Theatre
Previewed 13 October 1993, Opened 19 October 1993, Closed 26 February 1994 at the Wyndham's Theatre

Presented in an adaptation by Alistair Elliot.

The cast at London's Almeida Theatre featured Diana Rigg as 'Medea', Madge Ryan as 'Nurse', Dennis Clinton as 'Tutor', Tim Woodward as 'Jason', Joseph O'Conor as 'Creon', Peter Sproule as 'Aegeus', and Dan Mullane as 'Messenger', with Elizabeth Bell, Jane Lowe, and Nuala Willis.

The cast at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre featured Diana Rigg as 'Medea', Madge Ryan as 'Nurse', John Southworth as 'Tutor', Tim Woodward as 'Jason', John Turner as 'Creon', Robert Demeger as 'Aegeus', and Dan Mullane as 'Messenger', with Jane Lowe, Stella McCusker, and Nuala Willis.

Directed by Jonathan Kent, with choreography by Caroline Pope, sets by Peter J Davison, costumes by Paul Brown, lighting Alan Burrett (at Almeida), lighting by Wayne Dowdeswell (at Wyndham's), music by Jonathan Dove, and sound by John A Leonard.


2001: West End London Revival - Fiona Shaw

Previewed 19 January 2001, Opened 30 January 2001, Closed 14 April 2001 at the Queen's Theatre (now Sondheim Theatre)

Presented in an adaptation by Kenneth McLeish and Frederic Raphael.

The cast featured Fiona Shaw as 'Medea', Siobhan McCarthy as 'Nurse', Jonathan Slinger as 'Tutor', Jonathan Cake as 'Jason', Struan Rodger as 'Creon', Leo Wringer as 'Aegeus', and Robert Hines as 'Messenger', with Moya Brady, Emma Dewhurst, Kate Fleetwood, Gillian Hanna, Joyce Henderson, Gabrielle Lloyd, and Pauline Lynch.

Directed by Deborah Warner, with set and video by Tom Pye, costumes by Tom Rand, lighting by Peter Mumford, and sound by Mel Mercier.

Presented by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

Fiona Shaw's London theatre credits include playing the title role in Deborah Warner's revival of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the Playhouse Theatre in 1991; 'Rosalind' in Tim Albery's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It at the Old Vic Theatre in 1989; the title role in Tim Albery's revival of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart at the Greenwich Theatre in 1988; 'Katherina' in Jonathan Miller's revival of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Theatre in 1988; 'Madame de Volanges' in the original cast of Howard Davies' production of Christopher Hampton's stage adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Pit Theatre in 1986; and 'Celia' in Adrian Noble's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Theatre in 1985.

Siobhan McCarthy's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Donna Sheridan' in the original cast of Phyllida Lloyd's production of Catherine Johnson's ABBA musical Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1999; 'Svetlana Sergievsky' in the original cast of Trevor Nunn's production of the Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, and Tim Rice musical Chess at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1986; and 'The Mistress' in the original cast of Harold Prince's production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical Evita at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1978.

Jonathan Cake's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Silva Vacarro' in Lucy Bailey's production of Tennessee Williams' Baby Doll at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre, and transfer to the West End's Albery Theatre in 2000; and 'Charles'/'William' in David Thacker's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Theatre in 1993.

"Last night, Fiona Shaw electrified Shaftesbury Avenue as Medea, bloodcurdling descendant of the Sun (the god, not the newspaper), and took her terrible revenge... Deborah Warner's brilliant 95-minute production is starkly set in a white-walled palace of bland radio music, splashing water and sliding glass doors... Under threat of banishment, [Medea] is pushed to the limit, egged on and supported by an all-female chorus of carefully differentiated personalities, including fine actresses Gillian Hanna and Gabrielle Lloyd... Jason looms in the angry, vocally strangulated shape of Jonathan Cake, who fidgets too much and plays the 'weak' husband card too readily. But overall this is an astonishing production to find in the West End, and one that hits all sorts of contemporary nerves about children as pawns in marriages that have gone horribly wrong... Miss Shaw breaks your heart and yet also achieves a wonderful lightness and even humour along the way, proving that a tigress who kills for sex may also have the heart of a lion." The Daily Mail

"As Euripides's child-murdering Medea, in Deborah Warner's fierce production that transports the classic tragedy 2,431 years to a semblance of contemporary time, Miss Shaw scores a direct hit She's the rare, real tragic thing. True, some directorial touches strike false notes, as do some performances. But the fury of marital warfare, fought to the death, is unerringly captured... Miss Warner's production is powerfully set upon emphasising the timelessness of human cruelty. Shaw's Medea, having given up everything for Jason and unfairly facing exile, initially maintains an air of cool irony and awkward flippancy. But once in his sights she alters. Hystencal, grotesque, childlike clinging she goes to pathetic pieces. Here's the authentic noise of marital decline and fall." The London Evening Standard

"What could drive a mother to slaughter her defenceless little children? Deborah Warner's marvellous modern-dress production of Medea gives you a shattering sense not only of the horror of this act but of the tormented physiology behind it and the desperate self-destructive holiness of the revenge the heroine achieves in committing it... Spent and blood-spattered Fiona Shaw's superbly reckless and unsparing Medea slugs it out with Jonathan Cake's excellent public school sporting-god of a Jason in the central pool where she has been washing the dead bodies. She snaps the sails off the children's toy boats, this to announce that she means to stay put, and still, ignominiously desperate for his attention, she flicks water at her husband's turned back... Shaw offers a stupendous display of end-of-her-tether wit and irony but, despite her paroxysms at his ingratitude, she still obviously aches with lingering erotic besottedness for Jason." The Independent

Medea in London at the Queen's Theatre previewed from 19 January 2001, opened on 30 January 2001, and closed on 14 April 2001


2014: London Revival - Helen McCrory

Previewed 15 July 2014, Opened 21 July 2014, Closed 4 September 2014 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre

Presented in an adaptation by Ben Power.

The cast featured Helen McCrory as 'Medea', Michaela Coel as 'Nurse', Danny Sapani as 'Jason', Martin Turner as 'Creon', Dominic Rowan as 'Aegeus', Clemmie Sveaas as 'Kreusa', and Toby Wharton as 'Jason's Attendant', with Lorna Brown, Vivien Carter, Simon Desborough, Amy Griffiths, Adrian Grove, Hazel Holder, Jane Leaney, Caroline Martin, Daisy Maywood, Yuyu Rau, Petra Soor, Naomi Tadevossian, Cath Whitefield, and Jane Wymark.

Directed by Carrie Cracknell, with choreography by Lucy Guerin, designs by Tom Scutt, lighting by Lucy Carter, music by Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, and sound by Gregory Clarke.


2015: London Revival - Kate Fleetwood

Previewed 25 September 2015, Opened 1 October 2015, Closed 14 November 2015 at the Almeida Theatre

Presented in an adaptation by Rachel Cusk.

The cast featured Kate Fleetwood as 'Medea', Michele Austin as 'Medea's Brazilian Cleaner', Amanda Boxer as 'Nurse'/'Medea's Mother', Justin Salinger as 'Jason', Andy de la Tour as 'Creon', and Richard Cant as 'Aegeus', with Sarah Belcher, Ruth Everett, Georgina Lamb, Emily Mytton, and Charlotte Randle.

Directed by Rupert Goold, with choreography by Scott Ambler, sets by Ian MacNeil, costumes by Holly Waddington, lighting by Neil Austin, and music and sound by Adam Cork.