Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds/Touring
THE REFRAMING of Medusa as the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a powerful man is extremely timely, given the ongoing fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Rather than being the monster of mythology, Helen Mort has developed her into “a woman who exacts her revenge on the men that destroyed her and the gods that cursed her.”
Set in a dystopian world that merges myth with virtual reality, Medusa's characters are saturated in internet pornography, adult channels and evangelism. It’s into this over-sexualised society that Elizabeth Harborne’s Medusa, first introduced as an awkward 13-year-old, is raped by Rick Ferguson’s Poseidon at a party.
The scenes that follow are the strongest in Mort’s debut play, with Poseidon painting his victim as a seducer in his version of events.
It’s a narrative that’s supported by the courts, the audience being directly addressed during an uncomfortable rape trial-cum-game show.
But that tension is squandered in the second act through the episodic nature of the highly impressionistic script. There are large sections when it’s unclear what’s happening, how the action has relevance to the wider plot or even how characters have developed — and that includes the transition of Medusa from broken victim to man-strangler.
That lack of clarity undermines a play that has much potential.
Mort’s language is poetic throughout and the five actors acquit themselves well, not only in playing several roles but also as musicians and singers, with Tim Cunningham’s haunting keyboard score being rooted in the folk and roots traditions.
But the positives are stretched beyond all patience by the script's deficiencies, confusing Mort’s message about abuse.
Touring until November 16 2017, details: properjob.org.uk
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.