Medea, written 2,000 years ago by Seneca The Younger, is still a powerful read. The title-character dominates the stage with the intense strength and sense of exploding doom of a roiling volcano. You know she’s gonna pop her top because she spends most of the play warning us she’s about to do just that.
This is a play, written by stoic, that is nevertheless bursting at the stitches with just about all of the darker emotions humankind contains… There’s passion, crime, betrayal, abandonment, rage, revenge, violence, and murder. Reading Medea is like watching two freight trains barrelling down the track straight at each other. On one side is Creon, who erroneously thinks he’s in the engineer’s seat because he has all the political power and the military muscle to back it up. But on the others side is Medea, who possesses freightcars full of personal power that no one seems capable of fathoming. And caught inbetween is Medea’s family… her husband Jason and their two sons.
Medea, betrayed and abandoned by her husband Jason, laments her life’s one great crime– that of helping her then-future-husband in his flight from the murderous pursuit of her own family whom he had robbed. Unfortunately, helping Jason had resulted in the death of her own brother. Obviously, Medea considers that, all things considered, hubby owes her big time. When he later decides to set her aside and take another wife, she is left with nothing but the stain of her crimes and the great hollow place in her heart that is quickly filling with rage-heated blood.
All the passion she had once poured into her love affair with Jason now turns upon him and fuels her titanic revenge.
Medea knows that the path she is choosing is full of violence and will lead to her own doom, but she doesn’t care… “Let fall the world with me,” she declares. “How sweet to destroy when you die!”