A review and commentary by Patrick Shannon, III What's happening to Tulane theatre people?

by Patrick Shannon,

The moment we entered the Lupin Theatre lobby we were greeted at the box office by a snarling plump henna rinsed septic old cow/harpy who would not allow photography of production photographs; and who must have been Medea's mother in another life. She later stormed into the theatre and demanded that we move from our seats which were allegedly reserved for the ushers. We were at the top of the house next to the wall a few feet from the videographer. There were no "Reserved Signs" on the seats. I firmly stated, "I WILL NOT MOVE!" Some students in front of our seats whispered, as the septic old cow/harpy stormed into the theatre, "Oh, my god, here SHE comes again!" A little PR training is in order for this person, not to mention other members of the staff.

I must admire director Antony Sandoval for his astonishing and limitless imagination in attempting to fuse Asian theatrics with Seneca's version of this story. But it didn't work and actually caused giggles among the stunned audience. The truth of the Medea myth was completely lost in the surreal take Mr. Sandoval created for his production.

Seneca's Medea was mostly shouted as directed by Antony Sandoval in one act with no intermission, with Medea in a wheelchair as her chariot (thankfully silent), two actors (always gruff), and seven actress (sometimes giggly) from the Tulane Department of Theatre & Dance A ten minute static shadow puppet show accompanied by an interesting soundscape preceded the drama.

Shana Doyle was the Choral Leader and Helen Jaksch, Tania Michaels, Meredith Mullins, and Aiesha Volow were members of the Chorus. All of which sounded like they had speech impediments. There is obviously no class in enunciation or speech therapy in the Theatre Department, and subtleties of acting are completely undiscovered.

Kathleen Small was Medea. She was directed to become a snarling crab like creature, with stylized Asian theatre influenced movements as she "crabbed" across the stage in her wheelchair (I assume it was Medea's chariot; and the crippling anger of her spirit) or writhed, scuttled, and snarled on the stage like an unhinged cat/crab. It was very funny to watch.

Courtney Pauroso was the Nurse who had little to do, besides screaming to her charge, but roll Medea around the stage. Both she and Medea tippy toed in the wheelchair, or swirled around the playing area with balletic curved feet and pointed toes.

Clayton Faits was Creon, and Andrew Farrier was Jason. Both actors shouted their lines in a meaningless soporific monotone.

All actors were directed to move in a quick jerky style or step forward like untrained angular ballet dancers, feet flat then curved, arms and legs creating crooked lines of disfigurement.

The interesting gray scenic design with netting and a eye/sun/moon that became red was by Jenni-Lee Crewe. It resembled some shots I've seen of the giant spot of Jupiter photographed by the Hubble telescope.

The Japanese/Butoh/Maori/Lexx makeup and costume designs were by John Harry Bonck and were in some cases quite lovely, but the makeup did have a tendency to resemble B movie horror monsters.

The properties were designed by Anndi Daleske. Tara Andrus supplied the interesting and beautiful graphic design.

Martin Sachs was responsible for the lighting and technical design; and Ally Halperin was the Stage Manager.

No credit was given for the poisonous old henna rinsed cow/harpy whose "performance" preceded this over the top production of Medea, but she should have been cast in that role.

A fervid imagination can be a wonderful thing, but when it appears to have become unhinged it can result in some frightful experiments in the theatre.

The Tulane University staff needs to seek some psychiatric help for its post Katrina mental state and start acting like human beings again. It's just as easy to be pleasant as it is to be totally unpleasant.

Medea was a great exploration of the imagination; but a very bad absurd, unintelligible interpretation of an ancient story.

For more reviews of Medea: from my Ambush Magazine co-critic, Brian Sands, please use this URL: and look for 30-trodding the boards; and from the The Times-Picayune: Sound, fury characterize Tulane Theatre's 'Medea', Friday, March 31, 2006, by David Cuthbert, theater writer:

To read an article about the show entitled Mythical Revenge Takes the Stage please use the following hyperlink:

Please use either hyperlink to see pictures from the production: or