The allure of redefining myth never fails to entice. It’s a rite of passage for many theatre companies, and with Medusa the experimental and immersive 27 degrees try their hand at teaching the old dog new tricks.
The experience which lasts just over an hour is set in the labyrinth of The Crypt Gallery, an otherworldly hideaway that transports you away from the bustle of Euston station which lies above. It is a spectacular space and naturally, hard to do justice.
Wandering around pre-performance with a glass of Athena’s Poison (gin and tonic) – paid for with stones that you exchange money for at the entrance – the space has its own mysterious history etched into the walls, the rows of grave stones, the odd walled tomb.
And this is the main problem with Medusa. The space itself is so laden with its own history that often the immersive experience becomes lost in it. It feels that performers, audience, and the myth of Medusa are fighting against other, more present myths that seem to be lurking behind every corner.
That said, the seven sensory chapters exploring the myth of Medusa are engaging. A mixture of sound, light, and shadow peppered with snippets of speech, it is an experimental exploration of Medusa, seeking to portray her anguish at her metamorphosis from beautiful girl to terrifying monster. For 27 degrees Medusa is both of these things, yet more: vulnerable, hurting, and strong.
Multiple Medusas stalk the crypt, surround you, and at some points even reach out and touch you. The production doesn’t fail to live up to its promise to offer you an immersive and sensory experience, and means that it does manage to bring this myth to life in a sense.
However, as with all interactive experiences it is hard to avoid a sense of awkwardness when the performers start to tie up audience members’ hair or to choose a lucky – or unlucky – few to be blindfolded and led to feel a length of rope. Perhaps unsurprisingly there are suppressed anxious smiles between audience members, and at points it does feel slightly uncomfortable.
A night spent in The Crypt Gallery with Medusa undoubtedly redefines the myth, but sadly this production veers too close to the abstract, and rather than feeling a closer affinity to Medusa and her story, sadly the myth remains a little tangled. Medusa is an exciting production with a lot of potential, but for the moment feels a little lost.
Medusa played The Crypt Gallery until September 9.