A theatrical production I've come to enjoy quite a bit. This is a re-telling of the story of Medea from Greek Mythology. The catch is that, true to its name, it is set in Kabuki, a Japanese word that literally means song, dance, and acting.

While it's very difficult to produce the kind of intense emotion and passion expressed in its native Japanese tongue, Kabuki Medea was very well adapted. The adaptation is mostly that the actors now speak in an incredibly ludicrous, corny, overdramatized dialectized version of strangely-intonated English that, surprisingly enough, really grows on you. I suppose the best way to describe it is what would happen if William Shatner ever participated in an Anime choir.

For the first few minutes I, and my compatriots (whom I had dragged with me), had to stifle the overwhelming urge to burst out laughing. Twenty minutes into the first act, though, the feeling was mostly gone. Only a wisp of it remains when an actor laughs in a crazed or evil tone.

This effect of over-the-top acting is even further accentuated by the fact that the costumes are so incredibly vivid, vibrant, and, oddly enough, reflective. The entire first act sets up the psychedelic second act. In the first, the union of Medea and Jason, the slaying of the Golden Dragon, and the birth of their two sons is covered. As well as Medea and Jason's exile.

The second act is definitely weirder,bloodier, cornier, and more satisfying than the first.

In the second act, Jason, to win favor with his new King, decides to wed his daughter. He declares his divorce from Medea and serves her the Official Decree of Divorce. He then has his new bride-to-be stroll through Medea's house and further infuriate her. Medea throws both out and is told to leave the country within the day.

She then instructs her nurses and maids to bring forth all the cloth, tapestry, and gold they can find. They do so, and proceed to sew (or dance to appease the Stichery Gods, as it may appear) a beautiful, and surprise: shiny, dress for Jason's new bride.

Medea instructs her head nurse to ferry the garment over to the King's palace as a gift for the new bride. As she says 'It is a gift for forgiveness, I will leave the state, but please let my children stay.' Awed by the present, Jason's bride tries it on and parades it in her room. The trippiest scene follows. She is dancing and chanting in her euphoria.

Soon, however, her celebration turns into screams of horrible agony while she burns alive and is banished to the netherworld. Furious, Jason storms into Medea's house and demands to have his sons. He says that 'the best thing now is to never speak of our marriage again. Our marriage never existed. If you had truly loved me, you would have seen I needed to be free.' To say that Medea is visibly distressed would be a vast and horrible understatement. She is positively fierce. Medea immobilizes Jason and, in front of his eyes, brutally executes their two children.

Medea then escapes the country and is welcomed in the court of the King of Korea. They find each other positively and mutually amicable. Rinse, Lather, Repeat.


This show was presented at Niles North High School in Skokie, Illinois (near Chicago). Here's what the brochure has to say:

The Story
Jason, the warrior-prince, is in search of the Golden Dragon; if he can capture the Dragon, he can reclaim his rightful position as heir to throne of Yamato. He visits the southern-most islands of the Ryukus where he has heard the dragon can be found. There he meets a beautiful princess, Medea, and they are immediately drawn to one another. Against the wishes of her father, the King, she uses her powers as a sorceress to enable Jason to capture the Golden Dragon. He promises to make her his queen, and they are wed.

Medea's father, the King of Ryukus, is furious; Medea's actions have created a civil war. Medea's brother leads the forces against them, but Medea kills him so that she and Jason can make their escape. On the way to Yamato Court, Jason is overpowered and robbed of the Golden Dragon by his jealous uncle who then forces Jason and Medea out of the country.

Exhiled from both of their homelands, Jason and Medea go to live on the island of Kyushu. During their ten years on Kyushu, Medea bears Jason two healthy sons. But Jason, still longing for a Kingdom of his own, begins to court the princess of Kyushu.

After sacrificing her family, living in exile for a decade, and finally being rejected by Jason, Medea is a changed woman. She uses her sorcery to punish Jason. The women of the Ryukus help Medea sew a magical gown, irresistible to Jason's new princess, but deadly. After the princess's death, Jason returns to Medea to claim his sons, but she will not let him have them.

In her exhile, Medea is welcomed to Korea, by the King.

They are immediately drawn to one another.

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