The Animals Are All Drowning

In Simon Stone’s modernization of Medea, the avenging wife is the former research physician Anna (Rose Byrne), who has recently been released from a mental institution after poisoning her husband, Lucas (Bobby Cannavale). Lucas is also a research physician—one who has relied on his wife’s intellect for his professional success—and so Anna snaps when she discovers he is having an affair with the much-younger daughter (Madeline Weinstein) of their boss (Dylan Baker).

The set, designed by Bob Cousins, is a near-blinding all-white, evoking hospital fluorescents but also providing an ethereal, otherworldly shade to the drama. Unfortunately, the merits of the production end there. Stone’s script, and in particular his dialogue, is unremarkable—I almost want to write unnecessary. Rather than feeling dread of the inevitable, we feel bored by the predictable: jilted wife, insecure husband, younger lover, alcoholism, violence, etcetera.

Furthermore, as director, Stone has made the appalling decision to crib from Ivo van Hove: he records the action onstage while projecting the image above the heads of his actors. Of course, film and stage acting demand different kinds of performances. What is subtle to the camera is illegible to someone sitting in the balcony; what is powerful onstage is over the top onscreen. Granted, Stone’s Medea was never going to achieve the catharsis it seeks. Still, with the thoughtless introduction of trendy technology, the director is shooting himself in the foot.

Medea runs through March 8th at the BAM Harvey Theater.  651 Fulton Street  Brooklyn, NY.  1 hour 20 minutes.  No intermission.

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