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FringeReview Scotland 2024

Medea on the Mic

A Play, a Pie, A Pint

Genre: Drama, Fringe Theatre, LGBTQ+ Theatre

Venue: Oran Mor


Low Down

In a recording studio somewhere, Medea arrives to tell the story, the whole story but much aside from the story of her, Jason, the Argo, argonauts and her faither. And so, she tells us the tale of the beginning of her relationship with Jason, then he arrives as the tale moves onto their nuptials, the birth of their twins, Jason’s unceremonious dumping of his queen, and her eventual killing of their children. In a twist of fate, we then have the arrival of the Chariot Queen, Medea’s errant parent and their seduction of Jason. By this point Medea has helped Jason escape the initial ire of her faither before making her own escape, to Berlin, of all places. It ends with queer fates, just as it should – nuns, the Sound of Music parodied and Medea’s final thoughts.


There is something really radical at the heart of this which is truly challenging and very worthwhile. It is the disruption of any form of hetero normative depictions. They don’t disappear, as Medea does see Jason as a complete babe, when first seeing him, but it is side swiped constantly. Playing with who is what gender and how each connection can escape expected relationships is where this works well. It also gives some room for the use of the mither tongue, and though it does tend to the comic, it allows connection across the footlights to really cement themselves. For both of these, Nazil Tabatabai-Khatambahsh deserves real credit.
Where I struggled was the format chosen to deliver it. It oozes desire and danger, but ended up with a table, three mics and three chairs; though of course you can be dangerous in a seated position, with a poisoned tongue. And that dripped from Medea – Hannah Jarrett-Scott – brilliantly working the audience as she addressed them through the mic. Establishing a close relationship with us all, meant that we were all on board with an intellectual puzzle, which was delving deep and meandering widely into areas of assumption at times, without clear explanations of where we were going – the murder of the twins was revealed like an aside. By the time Jason – Reuben Joseph – arrived to give some background it was soon apparent that his presence was a side bar, side issue and he sat for what felt like long spells on the side; sultry, brooding but a spare nonetheless for long spells. When Jason addressed the crowd, it was like a fighter at a difficult press conference who was unbale to escape the demons that remained unspoken but were hanging questions above his head. The style began to break down and the reactions from the audience showed this was slightly less successful than the previous delivery; Joseph delivered each line beautifully, but the connection was beginning to fray. Enter the Chariot Queen – Marc Mackinnon – and what a marvellous entrance. Sparkly and gorgeous they gave us elements of the story which again challenged us and dragged back – please do pardon the pun – the audience onboard. Despite the lack of movement, it felt like a grove had been rediscovered.
The static nature of the direction, which, given the fact that the conceit was on the mic, is understandable, to an extent but the script took us so far, but needed to bring a better cohesion to the story which would have brought us all to the pages being presented. It felt a little disjointed, which was tremendously unfortunate because there are elements of genius at play here – Medea’s initial presentation, the move to berlin and use of the underground scene there, the seductions and the finale.
The technical crafts were good enough and functional and A Play, a Pie and a Pint does not always lend itself to complex and elaborate sets. Credit, however, to costume which was impressive.
The finale which managed to give us the nuns, the Sound of Music and Medea’s peroration were, however massive highlights and, though I may have had my issues around some of the the build-up, the payoff was worthy.