Sunday, November 27, 2022

Fringe Review: Medusa

Who: Brianna Seferiades
What: Medusa
Length: 60 minutes
Where: Theatre Aquarius Studio (190 King William Street)
When: July 21-31 as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival
Tickets: $12 + $1.75 fee at https://boxoffice.hftco.ca/event/866:569/

Was anything out of place with Medusa? Not a single, serpentine lock of hair.

Two sleeping, unnamed characters start the show, with a child-like character playfully, mischievously waking the other, and asking to remember everything. Apparently, that means everything about the myth of Medusa and Persephone, start-to-finish.

The narrative of this myth is spun through storytelling techniques that are inspired by historical tales. This frames the story beautifully, getting the performance into just the right moody mood. Within these techniques are multiple layers of storytelling explored, all executed by actors Claud Spadafora and Mimi Han, who play a variety of roles between them. It’s not difficult to tell these separate realities apart; the physicality, vocalisations, and staging are so sharp and clear that the audience is never lost.

Above all, these two performers are skilled at this. They never seemed to stumble, misstep, or falter. The performances were paced and flowing. Presumably writer-director Brianna Seferiades deserves as much credit as Spadafora and Han, since it is her script they’re using, and her direction that’s guiding the flow.

As to the story itself, we get old myths through new lenses. Sometimes the new lenses didn’t always make sense- however, I love mythology, particularly the Greek myths, and so sometimes when I was expecting certain narrative elements to come up, and they were changed, it took me a moment to recalibrate, like a recalculating GPS. That’s not on the show, of course.

When the end comes, it feels a little lacking- some ideas about mirrors and shadows are presented too late to be explored beyond poetic language. The shadow-play work is also front loaded, and while brilliantly used initially, it isn’t used as creatively as it could be.  

The script is sharp, keeps the story moving, and is pretty well-paced. It is primarily concerned with investigating the hardships of women in antiquity. Presumably, we are meant to meditate on how much has changed. I do, a bit. This theme has come up a lot in recent years, but Medusa manages to avoid soap-box lecturing by keeping the focus on the story, not the “message”. It doesn’t feel preachy. The show’s cast are invested in every moment, the script is high-grade, and the re-investigation of mythology is so well done that even if the feminist themes aren’t terribly new, they don’t feel derivative or stale.

Ryan M. Sero
Ryan M. Sero
Ryan M. Sero is a writer, among many other things, and has a long, loving history with Hamilton's theatre scene in particular. He is the artistic director of Make Art Theatre. He does what he does for Jody, Pippa, Emmett, Vienna, and Jude.

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