BWW Review: BLUEPRINT MEDEA, Finborough Theatre
Medea (Ruth D'Silva) becomes a Kurdish militant seeking asylum in the UK. Blueprint Medea tracks her journey from 2006 to 2016 as she leaves her home country, meets Jason (Max Rinehart), and then departs again. Written and directed by Julia Pascal, the piece introduces too many themes at once only to neglect most of them.
Not even the fairly strong performances delivered by the actors are enough to keep such convolutedly shaky material afloat. The main issue of the show is perhaps that she puts too much at stake for everything to be fully explored in 70 minutes. Medea manages to get through border control even after her passport is confiscated as a fake, but this is left there for the audience to take at face value.
She then befriends Suzy (Amanda Maud), an officer of sorts, who puts her to work illegally (one presumes) while she waits for asylum, but she doesn't explore any of the issues this brings to the table. Then she meets Jason, whose name is actually Mohammed, who's working in his father's taxi service and desperately wants her to see him as a Londoner, but their exchanges are bidimensional and flat.
There's little character development and the original mythical storyline is buried deep underneath the political messages Pascal strives too hard to convey. The writer presents caricatures instead of fully formed characters, using their different cultural values for shock purposes rather than to advance a logical argument.
Jason/Mohammed suddenly changes his mind and goes from seemingly having assimilated European culture to being trapped into a vicious circle of family obligations and insensitivity.
Nationalistic ideas and the threat (and memory) of war loom large on the portrayals, with PTSD and tradition making a brief appearance in the script just to be discarded, unanalysed, as soon as the plot moves on.
All in all, the play's messy and shallow but does feature some impressive work from the actors even if the psychological level of the written roles is disappointing. D'Silva alternates heartbreak with resolution while Rinehart's Jason is youthful and brazen until a switch is flipped and he turns into a cold and cruel individual (which is left rather unexplained by the text).
The supporting cast is equally strong, juggling a handful of characters that are, unfortunately, subpar and inconsequential. Pascal doesn't take a stand against the events she retells nor she addresses any of the violence directly, placing the matter in a position that perpetrates stereotypes and adds nothing to the conversation.
Photo credit: Isabella Ferro