Edinburgh Fringe 2018
The story of a family caught in the brutal throes of a marriage unravelling this is a powerful and moving retelling of the Greek tragedy set in 1980s rural England and staged amidst an electrifying live gig.
Medea the witch, the wronged wife, the child murderer, the woman driven insane by betrayal and exile – a story which is centuries old from a civilisation far removed from our own but still this powerful women inspires new interpretations.
Set in the 1980s in the context of an electronic music gig Medea Electronica is a synthpop opera staring singer Mella Faye in the lead role with fantastic support from Sam Cox (Drums) and Alex Stanford (Keyboards). Together they form the group Pecho Mama and with echoes of Toyah, Hazel O’Connor, Heaven 17 and Alison Moyet they perform a score interspersed with live and recorded dialogue which tells the story of Medea, her adulterous husband Jason and their two young songs transported from ancient Corinth to rural England in Thatcher’s Britain. The reason for Jason’s sudden dismissal of his wife jarred but the characterisation of Medea and the creation of her small and troubled family is very convincing in this 20th century context.
The band’s instruments and equipment form the set. Alongside Faye, Jack Weir is credited with an original and bold lighting design. Faye is also credited with the script which works well for the recorded characters but is less strong for Medea. If the show has a life beyond Edinburgh 2018 it might be worth exploring dropping the live text altogether and letting Medea express her grief, madness and rage purely through the powerful songs.
Faye as Medea is like a wild animal. It isn’t always possible to hear the lyrics as her anger make her incoherent but that doesn’t matter. In the gentler opening numbers when she is singing her children to sleep, herself scared and anxious of a strange new home, the songs are have the lilting quality of lullabies. Technically the show is a tour de force (sadly the sound engineer is not credited) slickly executed. Faye is responsible for a lot of on stage live mixing, as well as playing keyboards and singing. On the opening night to a packed house the show received a standing ovation and rightly so.