E uripides' Medea is a tough one to dull. It tells the tale of Medea, the mother of that great Golden Fleece stealer Jason's two boys. When Jason betrays Medea by getting betrothed to the daughter of Creon, the ruler of Corinth, Medea gets ticked. Blinded by rage, she sends both Creon and his daughter gifts that poison them to death. Then, just to make sure Jason gets the message, she kills their two sons.
It's hard to rob such a tale of its dramatic tension, and yet the Classic Greek Theatre's production, as directed and translated by Keith Scales, manages to do so. The problems lie with an ensemble that hasn't quite jelled. An outdoor space is at once open and stifling; the blowing wind and twittering birds frequently depriving the most seasoned actors of vocal power and physical presence. The understandable impulse is to overwork to be heard and seen, the trade-off in the wake of individual distinction often being team unity.
Scales' Medea is basically the Quigly Provost-Landrum show. Provost-Landrum is one of Portland's best actresses, and with her wild hair and deep, husky voice, is the perfect physical embodiment of the passionately vengeful Medea. Indeed, she stands out so strongly from her fellow castmates, she stands apart from them. The demented, dark, sexual energy Medea has with Jason is lost here as the quieter, meeker Kevin Connell wilts under Provost-Landrum's withering glare. Andrew Hickman makes boisterous, silly choices in his dual roles as Creon and Aegeus, ruler of Athens, while Erin Mclaine hams it up as the nurse to Medea's children. Only Kam Sisco as the final messenger of doom, with his elastic face and bulging neck cords, comes close to matching Provost-Landrum's intensity.
To make Medea relevant, Medea must be affected by the people in her life; she is ultimately a weak character, making huge, reactionary choices as a result of insecurities. But amongst this cast of goofballs, she's Queen of the Universe, and it's hard to believe she'd buy a new hat to impress her peers, let alone brutally murder her own beloved children. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS