Kristi Rolape as Medea.
Translated by Rex Warner
Directed by Rachel Joy Vidal
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents copyright © 2015 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
As you walk into Vault 1031 for the latest Savage Rose theater company production of Medea, you’ll notice a few things. Seating is limited to a forty-chair semi-circle, the set pieces are stripped down to a few red curtains, broken columns lay in pieces on the ground, and there is an exposed wooden staircase. The venue’s intimacy is emphasized and the rugged set establishes the tone for action that will surely be destructive and chaotic. This atmosphere is perfect for the Greek tragedy.
Medea is a cautionary tale about women for women, and this particular production is dominated by the presence of strong females. For starters, the Chorus of Corinthian Women (played by Clara Burton, Krista Harden, Becca Litton, Erica McClure, Kinsey McClure, Jay Padilla and Ann-Claude Rakotoniaina) act with solidarity throughout the play. As is tradition with Greek tragedy, this Chorus expresses strong emotions while individually adding a deep connection. The Chorus’ movement and vocal work, as orchestrated by director Rachel Joy Vidal, achieves considerable throughout the production. As Nurse, Rena Cherry Brown provides the most empathy towards the title character. Protective and wise, she remains a presence who urges to give guidance to a character fully charged by emotion.
Kristie Rolape is a fiery Medea. Angry and broken, Rolape sinks her teeth into the character’s thirst for vengeance, and to watch her carve out her schemes is truly mesmerizing. She plays Medea as a scorned woman who is in full control of her actions. You never question Rolape’s emotional pain as a woman who was brushed aside, yet her deeds are still unthinkable and villainous. What I found most fascinating about Rolape’s character was how straightforward Medea’s emotions seemed. With every twist and turn in Medea’s plans, Rolape physically captures the anger, sadness and woe with energetic force.
As for the men in this tragedy, they are no match for Medea. Robert Thompson plays Jason, the man who has wronged Medea. Against Medea, Thompson’s Jason is a calm presence with a logical explanation or excuse for all of his actions. He is seductive and transparent as a man who uses his prowess for power, yet Jason’s dominance unwinds as Medea takes her revenge. Brian West as Aegeus, Alphaeus Green as Creon, James Thompson as the Messenger and Chase Gregory as the Tutor each bring strong performances as men of power who question, judge, and disapprove of Medea’s emotionally charged actions. Additionally, Chase Phillips was a joy to watch as Medea’s son, Pheres.
It’s a woman’s world at Vault 1031 and within the small performance space, the emotions are high. Savage Rose Theater Classical Theatre Company has put together a thrilling production of betrayal and vengeance of Greek proportions.
September 18, 19, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27 – 7:30 p.m.
September 20 – 2:00 p.m.
Savage Rose Theater Company
At Vault 1031
1031 South Sixth Street
Louisville, KY 40203
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for Leo Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!