Saturday, March 6, 2021



Medea    Photo by Sanne Peper

MEDEA After Euripides

Written and directed by Simon Stone Translation Vera Hoogstad, Peter van Kraaij Dramaturgy Peter van Kraaij Scenography Bob Cousins Light Design Bernie van Velzen Sound Stefan Gregory Costumes An D’Huys Private Producer Joost and Marcelle Kuiper.

 Cast Anna Marieke Heebink Lucas Aus Greidanus jr. Clara Eva Heijnen Christopher Bart Slegers Herbert Alexander Elmecky Marie-Louise Joy Delima Gijs Titus Theunissen Edgar Sonny van Utteren Internationaal Theater Amsterdam is supported by Fonds 21  Her Majesty’s Theatre & Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre, Mount Gambier. Live streamed between Amsterdam and Adelaide. Adelaide Festival. March 4 2021.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

The anticipation at Her Majesty’s Theatre was palpable. Never before had a production been exclusively live streamed  simultaneously in Amsterdam and Adelaide. The International Theatre of Amsterdam, well known to Adelaide Festival audiences for Ivo von Hove’s productions of The Roman Tragedies and War of Kings, was live streaming Simon Stone’s much lauded 2014 production of Medea, based on Euripide’s Greek Tragedy about a woman who murders her children and inspired by the case of American physician Debora Green who murdered her children for revenge.

In Stone’s version, Anna is a physician, who has just emerged from a mental institution where she was incarcerated after attempting to poison her husband who was having an affair with Clara (Eva Heijnen), the daughter of Anna and Lucas’s boss Christopher (Bart Slegers). Her husband Lucas (Aus Greidanus Jr.)  is preparing to issue Anna with divorce papers. He also has sole custody of the two children who are now accustomed to living with their father and Clara, whom Lucas plans to marry. Anna returns with the expectation of resuming her job and her marriage as Lucas’s wife and the mother of their two children, Gijs (Titus Theunissen) and Edgar (Sonny van Utteren). Anna’s optimistic expectations of resuming the life she led before the affair are shattered, her husband has deserted her for a younger woman, her children no longer  are in her custody and she has lost her job and her reputation. She is desperate and desperate means require desperate measures.


Medea  After Euripides Photo  Sanne Peper
Stone’s production is riveting, visceral in its emotional force, stripping away any theatrical artifice to probe the very being of characters ensnared in this irreconcilable conflict. In her desperation Anna attempts in vain to sexually entice Lucas or secure greater access to her children. She is constantly frustrated and monitored by social worker Marie-Louise (Joy Delima). Her moral dilemma is agonizing and that agony is played with gripping force by Heijnen. Her presence envelops the screen. Her emotions ricochet with catastrophic consequence –at one moment deeply troubled, at another bewildered and confused, then coquettish and playful, then spiteful and desperately vengeful or intensely erotic. Heijnen’s performance is mesmerizing, terrifying in its inevitable self-destruction and heartrendingly exposing the wrong done to her and the wrong she has enacted in consequence.

Stone’s direction imbues the actors with the freedom of an open stage to discard restraint, to assume the essence of their character and the harsh reality of their circumstance. This is an ensemble at its very best, captured in close up and expressing with raw truth the universality of Euripides’ Medea and Stone’s contemporary  depiction of that universal truth. As the ash falls from above upon the pristine white ground and through the characters’ hair and clothes auguring the final murders and the conflagration of the family home the catharsis is complete and the judgement of the Gods dispelled with tragic retribution.

Covid may have deprived us of the live theatre experience of this chilling and absorbing emotional rollercoaster ride upon Her Majesty Theatre’s stage, but the International Theatre of Amsterdam has once again shown upon the screen that it assumes an unassailable status as one of the world’s greatest theatre companies, and we eagerly await its return to a future Adelaide Festival. For now, all at ITA and at the Adelaide Festival must be congratulated and thanked for enabling this magnificent production of  Simon Stone’s Medea  After Euripides to be screened live to a living audience fortunate enough not to be in lockdown.