As a Greek, I find it both peculiar and captivating to see pieces of Asian cinema that are inspired by the Classics. Recently, this occurred again in a stage production titled “Medea and her Double”, a Korean adaptation of the famous tragedy “Medea” by Euripides, which was showcased in Poland.
“Medea and her Double” is screening at InlanDimensions
Limb Hyoung-taek’s version begins before the original, depicting Medea and Jason fleeing together after flirting and eventually having two children. However, Jason later abandons Medea and marries Creon’s daughter Glauce in pursuit of wealth and influence. Fueled by rage and a deep sense of injustice, Medea devises a plan for revenge against those who have wronged her. However, she ultimately decides to take even more extreme measures.
The play directed by Limb incorporates various elements to tell the classic story. The music, singing, and sound play an equally important role as the visual aspect. It may take some time to adjust to the actors playing their roles on stage while other actors provide the sound from both sides. The use of a guitar and haegeum adds an interesting element to the performance. Another unique aspect is the presence of two Medeas and two Jasons on stage, with one portraying their younger selves and the other representing their current hypostases and the consequences of Jason’s actions. This contrast adds an appealing layer to the play.
In addition, the play is infused with a comedic element at the start before transitioning into a more intense drama towards the end. The incorporation of contemporary dance and a recurring style of delivering lines, which also incorporates singing, adds to the richness of the audiovisual experience. The set design is also noteworthy, featuring small vertical ponds on either side, a vivid red background that is mirrored on the floor, and the use of different types of candles. Together, these elements create a strong ritualistic atmosphere that becomes increasingly prevalent as the play progresses.
In this passage, Limb appears to be expressing disapproval towards the relentless pursuit of wealth and power, which serves as the driving force behind Jason’s actions and Medea’s retaliation. Additionally, the character of Jason is portrayed as a foolish figure throughout the story, following a similar trajectory. Kang Jin-hwi’s performance in the role is entertaining, as he portrays Jason’s foolishness with enthusiasm, and his transformation towards the end is particularly noteworthy.
In terms of performance, Kim So-hee shines as the leading role of Medea, displaying both a joyful and innocent demeanor at the start and a completely villainous one at the end. Moon Jae-kyung also delivers a solid performance as the second Medea, particularly in her scenes with Kim where she portrays a more restrained character.
With the exception of potentially falling behind near the conclusion, “Medea and her Double” is a superb production that successfully revitalizes the traditional story by infusing it with powerful eastern influences and a touch of humor in the beginning, which ultimately adds to the impact of the dramatic finale.