Written by Ezra Elia, Women of Greece: Medusa follows the successful premiere of her original work Sodom at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Both works have been performed by Fourth Monkey, an actor training company based in North London. Building on the Greek myth, the play chronicles the relationship between the mortal Medusa and her sisters, moving backwards and forwards in time to discover the origin of the curse put upon them.
The once-beautiful Athenian sisters were plagued with vanity. Their boasting grew louder as they aged, and Medusa, the most arrogant of the clan, soon plunged them into a deep predicament when she becomes determined to develop an intimacy with Zeus, the ruler of the Gods of Mount Olympus. When she seeks counsel from his daughter Athena at her holy temple, she is accosted by an erotic shepherd, and met with a terrifying punishment together with each of her sisters.
An opaque screen cloaks coloured lights to create an ever-changing backdrop. Dressed in shades of green and enveloped in black fishnets, the ensemble divides and merges to become Athena and her seers. Four draped in Grecian dresses alienate themselves from the group, and quarrel among themselves. The seers regress to the back of the stage, each possessing musical instruments, which are played live to underpin the action. Accompanied by technical sound effects, the movements of the cast shift into the supernatural. Consistently choreographed to a high standard, sequences swell and rush to the surface of the performance to form dynamic and interesting visuals.
Elia’s script is most impressive. Written entirely in verse, it flows lyrically and appears to stretch beyond the years of the young playwright. References of a sexual nature are handled well by the youthful but sophisticated cast, and they work carefully to communicate the narrative, especially in moments of comedy. However, the performers could have given greater awareness to their volume and annunciation, as towards the end it became more difficult to follow the dialogue. As a result of this, the conclusion was lost, depriving the spectators a satisfying sense of closure.
In spite of this, Women of Greece: Medusa is a remarkable innovation from this young company. Fourth Monkey will inevitably impress with future productions, and they are certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Fourth Monkey’s Women of Greece: Medusa is playing at theSpace on Niddry Street until August 12. For more information and tickets, see www.tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/fourth-monkey-s-women-of-greece-medusa