BUTOH MEDEA - Edfringe Review

I love Medea. It’s the best Greek tragedy has to offer: politics, kings, queens, revenge, exile, love, lust, blood and murder all bound up in the face of one proto-feminist icon: Medea. And I have a secret to impart about the man who write it, Euripides, the Athenian. Euripides and Aristotle, the father of literary criticism were very much at odds. Aristotle didn’t like Euripides and he had good reason: Euripides was guilty of failing to extract moral lessons from the events of his stories. Contrary to all his fellow tragedians, no blame is apportioned within his tragedies for the predicament in which the characters find themselves.

Euripides, the innovator, guilty of shifting boundaries and interpolation, has bequeathed to us some of the greatest oeuvres theatre has ever birthed. And his greatness lies in the courage to open the question to the audience without predetermining the answer. Yokko’s rewriting of the myth of Medea was brave, artistically courageous but it fails on this account. It constricts the myth to one very reductive principle: a wife’s revenge. I think that’s short-changing Medea in what otherwise could have been quite a spectacular marriage of Greek and Japanese. Having said that, I feel compelled to commend Yokko on the pathos and dedication to her art, she is truly magnificent

Butoh originated in Japan with a performance called Kinjiki by Tatsumi Hijikatan in 1959. Butoh attempted to throw off the constraints of Western dance and the rigidity of the highly codified Japanese traditions such as the ancient Noh drama but despite the initial rejection of Western ideals, you can almost see the paedagogical links with German Expressionist dance. Hijikata also drew on the writings of Jean Genet and Antonin Artaud and it is precisely these contradictions that make it fascinating. Butoh uses reduction to a great extent. Stillness, slow motion and the exploration of timeframes beyond the everyday. Butoh dancers’; skill of transformation is extraordinary, their dedication to inner awareness and the psychic materials in their bodies. Yokko’s transformation into Medea is breath-taking: profound, tormented, physical, truly esoteric and poetic. The show is not for the faint-hearted!

The story, written by Yokko, was co-adapted by Sean Michael Welch. She also choreographed the piece ably assisted by Jordan Rosin.

(c) Effie Samara
Paradise in the Vault
Aug 10-15, 17-22, 24-30 at 19:15pm
Warnings: Partial Nudity Suitability 16+

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