Whisked away on a boat to the seemingly isolated Trinity Buoy Wharf at eleven o’clock at night, there’s definitely something adventurous about the prospect of Hotel Medea. As other shows bring their curtains down, Medea’s tale is just warming up and it’s going to be a long night.
Beginning at nearly midnight with the raucous Zero Hero Market and ending in the eerie dawn of 5.30am with a shared breakfast, Hotel Medea is as much about exploring one’s capacity to experience performance in extreme conditions as it is the tragic myth of its namesake. Or at least it should be, puzzlingly this production seems more interested in self-indulgent set ups than placing the audience’s nocturnal experience at the centre of their work. This Medea could be done at anytime making the whole event seem slightly gimmicky.
Indeed this is a strangely conventional telling of the story of Medea. Whilst we are taken by the hand through a number of rooms and experiences and asked to play a number of roles it is always in a passive fashion; we feel a little like human props for the actors to manipulate and there’s no communion in that.
The only point when we are all near a moment of common experience is at the Zero Hero Market. It is the most successful part of this trilogy charting Jason and Medea’s wooing and wedding, and incidentally the only section one can do on its own. Whipping themselves and the audience up into a frenzy of Brazilian urban beats and swirling choreography we are all swayed into this strange ritual.
But this dynamic is broken with the first of two intervals in between each section which feel like church hall tea parties and ruin any sense of cohesive tension during the performance.
For all this you can’t fault the dedication of the cast (who work faithlessly in the face of an ‘ensemble’ that is clearly only really about PJM’s Medea) and the uniqueness of attending an all night performance is certainly compelling. It’s not quite enough however.
For project leaders PJM and Jorge Lopes Ramos, Hotel Medea has been a work in progress for the last three years but it still seems to have a long way to go. Maybe it’s time to put this one to bed and move on to a more audience-led over night experience.