The nice thing about watching a senior thesis in acting is that you know you’re in for an excellent performance. It might not be perfect. But there’s no way it can be bad. This weekend’s performance of Medea is the senior thesis of Faith Servant (who plays the title role) and Josh Henderson-Cox (who directs), and I’m happy to report that it is anything but bad. As a matter of fact, it really is quite good.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story of Medea, it’s pretty straightforward: Girl meets boy. Girl kills brother to save boy’s life. Girl triumphantly returns to Corinth with boy and marries him. Boy gets bored of her and decides to marry someone else. Girl goes apeshit, kills the new bride and her two young children. You know, just your average Katherine Heigl rom-com. Anyway, as for this particular performance, it would be absolutely ridiculous not to start with Servant’s performance as Medea. I cannot stress this enough: She is terrifying. Whether she’s screaming offstage about her unfortunate life, or talking to herself onstage, Servant makes it clear that Medea is not kidding around. She also pulls off the difficult task of making Medea seem calculating and manipulative as well as unhinged and bloodthirsty, and it’s this somewhat contradictory combination that keeps the audience on edge.
The other performance of note here is Hector Marrero ’15, who plays Medea’s soon-to-be-ex-husband Jason. Servant and Marrero have already proven that they have chemistry as a couple, having played the title characters in last spring’s Romeo and Juliet update Icarus and Aria. However, their performances in Medea show that they also have excellent chemistry as adversaries, with Marrero both matching Servant’s intensity and challenging her to increase it. The scenes between the two of them are easily the best parts of the play.
Of course, this isn’t just one person’s senior thesis. Josh Henderson-Cox does an admirable job as director of a play not necessarily suited to modern audiences; in fact, many moments in the play came across as so natural that I forgot I was watching an ancient Greek tragedy. Henderson-Cox makes a few peculiar directorial decisions that could easily come off as pretentious, such as the double-casting of Jason, Creon (Taylor Ross ’13) and Aegeus (Chris Wilson ’16) and a final face-off in which Medea addresses Jason from behind and Jason in turn addresses the audience. However, by equal parts luck and good planning, these moments work, and they set the play apart from other Greek tragedies that I have seen. I was not a huge fan of the costumes, which seemed rather confused as to which time period they sought to depict, but the sparse set and frequent utilization of dimmed lighting certainly helped to draw attention to the wonderful acting that was undoubtedly the show’s highlight.
In conclusion, go see Medea. The second and final performance will be on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. in the Hill Theater (as always, student tickets are two dollars). Also, don’t forget to check out this weekend’s other KCDC show, Oleanna, which is the senior thesis of Meg Sutter and Harry Hanson. Its first performance will be Friday at 8:00 p.m. in the Hill Theater. See you there!
Oh Audrey, you are lucky to be a sophomore who was only exposed to the overall solidly-acted thesis shows last year. There have been some, may I say “less than stellar” thesis performances in years past. And some extraordinary ones, of course, but that’s the nature of theatre. Regardless, the show sounds great so congratulations to Faith and Josh and the rest of the cast.
To only mention the INCREDIBLE and ridiculously complex lighting design as “the frequent use of dimmed lighting” is a gross oversimplification. Come on, Thrill, can we work on these reviews!?
Agreed. The lighting design was some of the best, if not the best, I’ve seen at the Hill.
MEDEA is excellent, and this was one of the few reviews that undersells a Kenyon show. Go see MEDEA!
I thought the mise-en-scene created by both set and costume was brilliant! It didn’t cling to an era and allowed the themes and drama of the play to shine through clearly.
Also I think that it wasn’t luck at all that moved Cox to have both leads gazing at the audience during the final scene, that choice is what made the closing so strong. We the audience are gazing upon the characters who are (as it is implied) gazing upon each other. This direction also allowed for the audience to fully absorb the drama deftly expressed by Faith and Hector.
Sarah Johnsrude’s name deserves to be mentioned. Sarah’s designs were the best I have seen for any senior thesis production since I’ve been at Kenyon, and the fact that she was the designed scenery, lighting, and costumes deserves recognition. The designs were supported well by informed and intelligent concepts that in turn supported Josh’s vision stunningly without drawing attention to themselves and being indulgent. The scenery created an architecture for the space that was both practical and aesthetically harmonious, allowing Josh to create meaningful, balanced, and just generally arresting stage pictures. The lighting design was beautiful, raw, and commented wonderfully on the inner- and outer-conflict between good and evil that lies at the heart of the play. The costumes were, without a doubt, the best I have seen at Kenyon…mainstage or thesis. Your review states that the costumes were “confused as to what time period they sought to depict,” but I believe that the fashions of the clothing were common threads in the history of fashion trends for both men and women, none of them outside the realm of the modern setting for the production. Your review fails to catch the subtle, yet significant details that helped to enhance the audience’s understanding. The shades of purple in the chorus’ costumes that faded with each woman’s increasing age, in concert with the cuts and layering may have solicited your “confused” comment, but they reveal a great deal to us about the women that form the chorus. Paying attention to the text, the audience’s understanding of the ages of those women is incredibly important.
Audrey, your review is a gross understatement on the quality of this production and insulting simplifies the tireless work that was put into its creation and execution. Please realize that your public opinion has an effect on its readers, and in turn, the audiences of the productions that you review. Do not take that position lightly.
Also, please realize that theatre is a collaborative medium and is the result of a number of creative minds and talents working together. It is disrespectful to make mention of someone’s work and not make mention of their name, especially when you receive a document that details who has done what when you walk in the door.