The Age Old Wonder of Theatre 17


Yesterday a middle aged man and woman, who looked the epitome of Morningside respectability, had tears on their cheeks as the lights came up at the end of our Medea. It told of the amazing power of theatre, and the unchanging nature of human emotion and experience, to see these solid burghers so moved by a three thousand year old tale.

It was a stunning performance. The first night’s technical glitches having been almost completely resolved, the actors were fully engaged, almost scarily so in the case of Nadira. It is a peculiar thing to see someone you love so inhabited by a torn and ultimately psychotic personality, if only for seventy minutes.

I was honest with you about the first night disaster, and I am equally honest in saying how proud I am of this production now it is working. Last night was undoubtedly one of the most gripping nights in the theatre I have ever experienced. The cast are just tremendous. We had our first major critic in yesterday, and I will leave them to tell you about Nadira, but she was extraordinary. Sarah Berger is long established as an actress of great power, and her telling of the death of Creon and his daughter is truly horrifying; all the hairs on the back of my head stood up. Richard Fry is an established star of the Fringe, and to see him acting outside his one man show genre reveals new aspects of his enormous talent. His characterisation of Jason is as compelling as it is unexpected.

I feel elated this morning. But theatre requires an audience, and that we absolutely don’t have yet. I think last night’s paying customers amounted to twelve. That was always my greatest fear; how nowadays do you get an audience for something serious at the fringe, which is nowadays mostly a lucrative larkabout for people off the telly?

Paul Daniels comes out of the dressing room as we come in. He is actually very nice, friendly and unaffected. Nadira often has some amusing insights into British life, having grown up happily shielded from our popular culture. The first day she came out and whispered to me “There’s a weird old man carrying a rabbit in there”!

I hope you realise why I am not yet back to normal blogging. Hopefully once things settle…


17 thoughts on “The Age Old Wonder of Theatre

  • kathz

    I wish I could get to Edinburgh and see this. I’ve never seen the Medea – is this a translation of Euripides or an adaptation? – and would welcome the opportunity as I’ve known the play for a very long time. I reckon anyone interested in theatre should see Greek drama when the opportunity presents itself in order to understand – it sounds as though this production worked just as it should. I hope there’s a chance that it will re-appear somewhere I can reach.

  • ingo

    Well done to Nadira, you sound a very proud man too. Once the critique is written and of some value, more might attend, but its very much up to you, I feel, a walk through Princess Street, with a fully dressed up Medea at your arms, handing out flyers, could make some difference here.

    What is important are the follow ups, the long term bookings for the play, the paying public in Edinburgh is not necessarrily it.

    Must be so exciting.

  • mary

    Bravo,. Get your megaphone out Craig. You have done well in Kensington High Street and Whitehall before.

  • Nextus

    I’m glad to hear here it’s going wonderfully well. I would have been there. I was sitting with a pal on the steps in George Square, outside the theatre, having failed to get a ticket. I arrived at the Box Office with about 30 minutes spare but the queue for tickets was very long and very, very slow-moving.
    .
    I would advise prospective audience members to book via the internet in advance and use the automatic ticket collection machines.
    .
    I’ll try again tonight, if I’m feeling well enough (the change in climate has given me the Burghy lurgy).

  • angrysoba

    But theatre requires an audience, and that we absolutely don’t have yet. I think last night’s paying customers amounted to twelve. That was always my greatest fear; how nowadays do you get an audience for something serious at the fringe, which is nowadays mostly a lucrative larkabout for people off the telly?
    .
    I hate to sound facetious here but when you perform at a place called “The Fringe” then expecting droves of paying customers seems a bit beside the point.
    .
    The ideal play would be of a naked fat balding homosexual orang utang smoking a hookah and gazing into the distance recalling his experiences with snail philosophy while being watched by two elderly lady subscribers to the London Review of Books wearing “HAMAS” badges and eating French fancies with their three-legged geriatric rottweiler called Robespierre lying exhaustedly at their feet.
    .
    Anything less outre would be snapped up by Davros Murdoch and shown to all the unthinking plebians on Sky TV to control their brains.

  • Clark

    Angrysoba, that is a fair description of the production I was involved in at the Fringe. Are you psychic or were you the audience?

  • conjunction

    Very glad the play is going well. Some Greek tragedies, in certain respects, beat anything in Shakespeare, being to my understanding much more free of sexism and racism, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect of Greek culture. Medea is possibly my favourite. Medea psychotic? Maybe, but according to wikiipedia it is a very old story and there is the idea that she represents a goddess, some kind of divine retribution, which is somewhat akin to the characters of females in other Euripides plays.

    I don’t suppose there’s any chance of putting it on a dvd?

  • angrysoba

    Angrysoba, that is a fair description of the production I was involved in at the Fringe. Are you psychic or were you the audience?

    .
    Just call me Maximilien from now on.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Great stuff, Craig!!! I told you it’d be okay! Brilliant. I shall be there on Sat 6th Aug – and am very much looking forward to seeing the play! Nextus, I booked on-line, so if you’re going tomorrow, I might see you there too! I shall be wearing a green floppy hat (unless it’s raining, in which case I will be wearing a blue peaked cap).
    .
    Re. audiences at the Fringe: Hey, it’s quality, not quantity, man. Bums-on-seats are always great, though! Let’s try and find that hookah-smoking orangutan… an old pal, last spotted somewhere in Princes Street, circa 1985.
    .

  • ingo

    I’m jealous Suhayl, 😉 so wish to be with you and nextus, have fun, enjoy and tell us bout’ it.

  • James

    It was spot on tonight Craig, a great show. I really enjoyed the performance – I shall be telling other friends to attend – and our brief chat about travel in Central Asia thereafter.

  • James

    PS. I thought there was a pretty healthy attendance for so early on in the Fringe this evening. It augers well for when things get really busy next week.

  • Nextus

    I was there too. I counted about 40 people.
    .
    It was a powerful performance tonight. Nadira really looked the part, and was able to portray so many conflicting emotions by twisting her shawl round her hands, her head and her neck. And those eyes! So expressive of suffering and tortured malevolence. Well done all round.

  • craig Post author

    Thanks so much, James and Nextus. James, I am sorry I was distracted when I was talking to you, I had misplaced my daughter (who naturally enough turned out o be in the pub).

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Saturday’s evening’s show was superb. The performances were powerful, disturbing, convincing and I thought Nadira, as the protagonist, captured perfectly – and subtly – the profound emotional cadences of incipient lunacy, deranged motherhood, the rage of jealousy and betrayal and also great tenderness. She carried the audience with immense skill to the threshold of filicide and beyond. The last few scenes in particular were shudderingly good.
    .
    The syncretic music, costumery and lighting worked very well and were facilitatory rather than intrusive. I really liked the way the Greek Chorus was used, as a dynamic, statuesque, on-stage interlocutor.
    .
    The script had been cleverly written to incorporate a mix of ancient and modern – or perhaps of timeless – drama, marriage relationship dynamics, mendacity, selective memory, perceptual dissonance, etc. I thought that worked really well and must have struck appropriate chords in the audience; there were wry laughs at the appropriate moments. The words, the music and the costumes melded in an otherworldly, parahistorical and yet simultaneously visceral, individuated theatrical and conceptual space.
    .
    The male lead acted three roles, utilising changes of costume and accent, and shone in all three. And the female supporting actress was equally effective in her role. All three lead actors played off one another beautifully.
    .
    The show was very well attended; I think perhaps word is getting around, and of course people from all over are arriving in Edinburgh. I certainly shall spread the word and will thoroughly and widely recommend ‘Medea’.
    .
    Well done to everyone involved in the production! We really enjoyed it.
    .
    Lovely also to meet you both.

Comments are closed.