<i>Medea</i>

Denise Devin Jonica Patella and Dale Sandlin

Details

Fri., Sept. 9, 8:30 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 11, 7 p.m. 2016
$15

Location Info:

Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre
4850 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA  91601
818-202-4120
Performer Jonica Patella is a petite woman but she packs a powerful punch. Her work is on display for one more weekend at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre, where she appears as Medea in Euripides’ tragedy of the same name. Under an hour, the show has been compressed, adapted, choreographed and staged in a remarkably small space by director Denise Devin.

When I was a kid and first heard the story, I thought of it as a far out myth of a monster lady who murdered her own children. Now I see it as the tale of a cruelly betrayed woman driven to extreme acts by the lack of options available to her in a society where women have no rights and can be discarded by a man as easily as an unwanted garment (Too many of these places still exist today.) Medea even states in the midst of her rant that divorce is not an option for her, that it’s a “dishonorable” choice for a woman.

In order to exact her revenge, Medea must beguile both Creon (Dale Sandlin), the ruler of Corinth, whose daughter is marrying Medea’s husband Jason (Alex Walters), and Jason himself; both men are naturally disinclined to trust her, but she manages to secure their confidence long enough to engender the murder of her rival, the young princess (Dicle Ozcer), and Jason’s children (who do not appear on stage in this adaptation).

One of the most effective scenes directorially takes place between Medea and Jason, who tries to convince her that leaving her for another woman is in everybody's best interest: His status will be upgraded, and with plenty of money he can take care of her and the kids. Medea isn’t buying it, of course, but it’s laughable to see to what degree Walters’ dissembling betrayer believes his own excuses – it really is classic. Both performers are neatly on target.

Not everything works: The biggest flaw in the production is the inconsistency among the supporting players, some of whom aren’t adept handlers of the literary language.

But Patella is magnetic, and the tiny venue elevates  rather than detracts from her intensity. Devin’s inclusion of a hypnotic song (composed by Elif Savas), along with Taiko drums and other percussionist instruments, brings a haunting quality to the drama.
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