Like most English Lit students, at A-Level I was taught the principles of tragedy: Aristotle and his extensive terms, catharsis, hubris, all that jazz. Well, it all went a bit Greek the other day when I attended the powerhouse production, Medea Electronica by Pecho Mama, a modern retelling of the bone chilling Medea by Euripides at the Ovalhouse.
Pecho Mama, are a new trailblazing company, their work and name pay homage to the post-trauma recovery specialist, Clarissa Pinkola Estés,
“Hombre con pechos. These human beings could be called little wild mothers, the ones who reattach you to the wildest instincts, rejoicing when they see you coming back with the fiery skull held out before you.”
They strive, and succeed, to ‘create work that is raw, savage, beautiful and challenging.’
With the talented Mella Faye on vocals, Sam Cox on drums and Alex Stanford with his keyboard and sound garden, the audience is transported to the technologically turbulent 1980s.
This electric and spell binding retelling of the infamous Greek tragedy sucks the audience into the deranged mind of the scorned mother and wife, Medea. Her descent into madness is caused by her husband’s betrayal and deceit; meaning she rapidly seeks to carry out the most cruel and barbaric revenge. Her transformation from the feeble victimized women to femme fatale is captivating. And, due to Mella Faye’s immense talent, you feel genuine empathy for the plight of Medea, despite her evil deeds at the end.
What makes this performance so powerful is the bare and raw atmosphere on the stage. Radios, phones and chairs suspended from the ceiling reinforce the sense of disarray and inversion of normalcy. Moreover, as Medea is the only character on stage, all other vocals are played through speakers, so you see the full inner dialogue of her mind.
This play seeks to break down the barriers of live music and theatre. It’s not just a play the audience is spectator to, intricately woven into the performance is a mash up of contemporary cinematic soundscapes and 1980s inspired Electronica.
Throughout the intense 70-minute performance I was on the edge of my seat and felt absolute terror at how the stories unfolds. Its proleptic beginning of Medea showing her two young children there aren’t any monsters under their beds, and the delayed response of her husband, Jason East, implies something is off in their supposedly idyllic household. And indeed, soon the monsters appear.
Unsurprisingly, reviews for their debut have been unanimously positive. After their stint at the Old Market in Brighton, the media outlet The Latest praised it as a “A bold creative talent and that rarest of things; something genuinely new.” Similarly, Brighton Uni’s student newspaper, The Verse, concluded it was “exquisite theatrical performance….spine tingling songs of defeat and heartbreak.”
They are at the Ovalhouse until 10th February, however they are doing productions up and down the country for the rest of the year. Here’s a link to their website, so you can grab your tickets while they’re still available: https://www.pechomama.co.uk/
I cannot recommend this jaw dropping performance enough, hats off to this immensely talented trio for taking a Greek tragedy and perfectly placing it in a contemporary, and very real, setting.