Fabrice Conte directs “Medea” at the Oklahoma City Theatre Company in the City Space Theatre at Civic Center Music Hall. Directing such a demanding example of Greek tragedy from the acclaimed playwright Euripides can be very daring. Conte must stage the production with authority but cast the play with actors who are able to present the bicamarel mind that realistically represents the mentality of the age. “Medea” is a horrific play to watch in many ways for the modern audience, but when the characters present ancient duality with sensitivity and familiarity the nature of the deeds can be transcended by the mind that conceives of those deeds.
J. Christine Lanning brings many qualities to the title role of “Medea” through her innate understanding of Medea’s conflict and her strong throaty voice. Her performance starts at a very high level of emotional distraction and it is amazing that she is able to sustain and then build her distraught character as the play continues. Although Lanning aptly builds to thoughtful hysteria, it might be easier to pull back in the initial scenes to create greater scope to her bipolar personality. Scott Hynes is Jason. While his portrayal is just as cognizant of the dual approach to guilt as Medea, Hynes portrayal is also very modern. The arrogance of men over women is timeless and Hynes brings Jason’s arrogance to tragic realization. The Nurse, opening the play, is played by Jayme Howell. It is essential to set up the circumstances clearly and sumptuously and Howell does a superb job of communicating with the audience.
King Kreon is played by Shawn Kilburn and he establishes a nice rapport with himself. Which is exactly what petty kings of old are best at doing. Kilburn’s performance is excellent. King Aigeus is a more attainable character and Joshua Irick’s portrayal presents a magnificent counterpoint to Kilburn. The role of the Chorus is essential to the progression of the tragedy and the mood of the characters and audience. Jennifer Casteel Heideman, Krissy Jones and Rachel Morgan reveal a haunting harmony adding a great deal to the ominous ambiance. The three women are similar in height and dominance and their pretty faces are obscured by their truthful demeanor using some help with exciting make-up artistry.
Paul Mitchell as the Messenger brings a freshness to the role, surprising the audience with what they already know. Matthew Canann plays the children’s tutor very nicely and lends an aura of easygoing teacher knowing exactly when to put his charges in line. The roles of the two young boys are played by Andrew Bergner listed as Boy 1 and Kyler Lanning as Boy 2. The roles are certainly not demanding for a small child, especially one who is unaware of his fate. Nevertheless, both boys already exhibit the stage presence that any future actor or speaker needs to command attention. The talent must be in the genes and both should be applauded for allowing that side of themselves to show. All in all, while “Medea” may not for the best choice for sensitive patrons; this production is an excellent example for sophisticated viewers and devotees of classical literature.
Show time is approximately one hour and twenty minutes so “Medea” is presented without intermission. “Medea” plays through October 27, 2013 (this weekend!) at Oklahoma City Theatre Company. City Space Theatre is located in the lower level of the Civic Center Music Hall. For reservation information call the Civic Center Box Office at 405-297-226 4 or visit www.okctc.org