LAUGHTER isn’t usually associated with a Greek tragedy, especially one about a mother killing her sons.
But Kate Mulvany and Anne-louise Sarks’ re-writing of Medea in a modern setting had the audience chuckling away.
The script is skilfully brought to life by young teen actors Jesse Vakatini and Jalen Hewitt, who play brothers Leon and Jasper.
We view the tragedy through the brothers’ eyes, and they had the stage to themselves for most of the play.
Their delivery was so natural that parents with teenagers in the audience were probably laughing the hardest.
Locked in their bedroom, the brothers listen to their off-stage parents Medea and Jason (he of the mythical Golden Fleece) argue.
Divorce won’t end in a generous settlement, but in Medea killing her sons in revenge for Jason leaving her.
Behind the laughter tension builds because the audience know what’s coming despite the boys telling fart jokes and clowning around.
Bryan Woltjen and Tyler Hill’s set is a colourful modern bedroom, strewn with toys and crayons, with unmade beds and glow-in-the-dark stars.
The brothers pass the time with mock sword fights, games and storytelling.
Pressing a glass against the wall to try and hear what their parents are arguing about, the boys wonder how long it will take them to “work things out”.
It could take a while, “as much as a couple of hours”, they decide.
Mum, played by Alexandra Steffensen, pops in from time to time, ordering them to clean up the room, or lurching from manic euphoria to passionate declarations of love as she plans their demise.
Her Medea is a woman on the edge: her mental state deteriorating from unrelenting stress. The play is still Euripides’ Medea, but for the first time the audience gets to hear the children speak, Mulvany says.
“More importantly we get to spend their last hour on earth with them, when no one else in history has.”
Medea is at the State Theatre Underground until August 25.
by JENNY D’ANGER