Full marks should go to Oxford Playhouse for bringing us a UK premiere as part of Dancin’ Oxford’s 10th birthday celebrations. The Playhouse is now the regular venue for the Oxford Greek Play[1], and so Thomas Noone’s dance work inspired by Euripides’ Medea co-produced by Mercat de les Flors was an apt choice.

A powerful opening solo for the dancer playing Medea set the foreboding atmosphere, as she obsessively repeated sequences of movements to an electronic soundscore, her speed and intensity reminiscent of Wayne McGregor’s work. Noone’s choreographic style, which makes frequent use of a distinctive lift in which one dancer is passed horizontally around the waist of another, may also hint at Russell Maliphant’s influence.

Telling stories through dance is difficult. Noone’s Medea is an uneasy mixture of episodic narrative and expression of emotion through movement, but it is successful in that it is absolutely clear that this is a very masculine take on the tragedy. Noone’s heroine seems to be the victim of an overwhelming sexual jealousy that has unhinged her mind; she is a victim who is barely responsible for her actions. This could not be further from Euripides’ highly dangerous eastern sorceress, the ancient equivalent of a murderous Mata Hari, who brilliantly inflicts a well planned and hideous revenge on her enemies before escaping to Athens.

Notwithstanding these reservations, I should very much like to see these dancers again; their movement quality is lovely and their theatricality gripping. Their names, listed on the cast sheet without further information about them, are Javier G. Arozena, Alba Barral, Jerónimo Forteza, Erik Regoli, Eleonora Tirabassi and Gemma Güell. The SAT! Theatre in Barcelona is fortunate to have this company in residence.

Maggie Watson

8 March 2016

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Classical_Drama_Society#Oxford_Greek_Play

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