Julia Pascal’s Blueprint Medea loosely transposes Euripides’ tragedy to modern day London. In her version, the title character (Ruth D’Silva) is an asylum seeker who previously fought for an independent Kurdish nation.
The exact circumstances surrounding her escape to Britain are never fully explained, but the play vaguely hints that she has undergone torture. Once in the city, she works as a cleaner and meets a man named Jason (Max Rinehart), who is known to his family as Mohammed. The pair move in together and start raising twin boys, but their initial happiness is cut short when Mohammed’s father insists he leave the Kurdish Medea and instead marry his Arabic cousin, Glauke (Shaniaz Hama Ali).
It’s an interesting premise. Rewriting Medea as both an immigrant to the UK and a Kurdish citizen of Turkey emphasises how her status as a foreigner influences how others treat her, as well as her own isolation and desperation. Pascal’s Medea also uses herbal remedies and other complementary practices to cure people, something that beguiles people but is also makes them think of her as a witch.
Despite some promising elements, Pascal’s play – which she also directs – doesn’t translate well to the stage. Some of the plot points are fundamentally unbelievable, the dialogue has some seriously leaden moments and the decision to have the five-member ensemble on stage at all times results in performers standing about with nothing to do. There are the seeds of a good play here, but it feels sorely underdeveloped.