Tenderness and raw anger in PrismCo’s Medea Myth

How many know the details behind the story of Jason, Medea and The Golden Fleece? Medea was a sorceress, but she was also a Princess (daughter to Aeetes, King of Colchis) High Priestess of Hecate (Goddess of witchcraft) and grand daughter of Apollo. On his way to Colchis Jason confronted numerous perils, including The Symplegades (clashing rocks) and The Harpies. When Jason and the Argonauts landed on the Island of Colchis, in search of The Golden Fleece, it was Medea who helped Jason survive the dragon, and other dangers to secure it. She used her skills to help Jason flee, but not without betraying her father, murdering her brother (Absyrtus) and dissolving all ties to home. It was only after all this, that Medea married Jason (who swore an oath to Medea’s Gods) bore him two children. They made a home in Corinth, where Jason would marry another princess, and Medea would would exact ghastly retribution. It is this “backstory” that suggests the content for PrismCo’s Medea Myth: Love’s Beginnings.

Not once when attending PrismCo’s dance spectacles have I been disappointed. They always combine elements of the fanciful and exquisite with the primal and unsettling. The dancers never speak, but their preverbal communication is comprehensible. They avoid traditional dance costume, though like other dance and opera companies, they seem to appreciate Greek and Roman mythology. At least from time to time. They bring a lovely, ingenuous quality to Terpsichorean narratives, as if we are discovering water, or stars, along with them. As if the strange and enigmatic is being revealed to them, and we share in that revelation. PrismCo has an ingenious gift for using devices like shadowplay and bare light bulbs, two-dimensional puppets and voluminous scarves, every piece meticulously pondered and placed. They create enchantment from the elemental and familiar.

The lithe, diaphanous Katy Tye plays Medea, wearing a simple black dress and unaffected as a sparrow. Jason is just brawny enough to look fetching, wearing the practical white of sailors. Two of the female dancers might be sprites or nymphs, weaving and wielding magic whether shape-shifting or invisible. The other sailors also wore white, while Medea’s father and brother wore deep blue peacoats.

When we consider PrismCo’s aim to tell a story with no verbiage, whether written or spoken, Medea Myth: Love’s Beginnings, is virtually successful. The choreography seemed to blend the delicate, whimsical and acrobatic. It comes down (I believe) to how pleasurable the experience, whether or not we can track the plot as it has been interpreted. When we attend The Nutcracker, most usually know enough of the folktale to appreciate the young girl, The Rat King, the soldier, and the marvels of Christmas to appreciate what we see. Even if we don’t get the particulars. PrismCo casts their beguiling, intuitive spell, when we are sorting out the snares that have befallen Jason’s crew, or witnessing Medea’s tumultuous struggle with family devotion and desire for Jason. We are submerged in a conundrum that makes it possible for us to see this familiar, devastating story of tenderness and raw anger in a completely fresh way.

Katy Tye (Medea) Josh Porter (Jason) Brandon Whitlock (Aeetes) Mitchell Stephen (Absrytos) Gretchen Hahn (Argonaut) Jeremiah Johnson (Argonaut) Kia Nicole Boyer (Elemental) Amy Barnes- (Elemental) Written and Directed by Brandon Sterrett. Fight Choreography by Jeff Colangelo. Dance Choreography by Katy Tye. Lighting Design by Jonah Gutierrez. Sound Design by Tre Pendergrass

AT&T Performing Arts Center & PrismCo presents Medea Myth: Love’s Beginnings playing April 13th– 23rd, 2017. Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora Street, Dallas, Texas 75201. 214-880-0202. www.attpac.org

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