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!