off the WALL Productions had its official start to the 2019/2020 season last week with a table read of the season’s first show, Not Medea. Written by Texas-based playwright Allison Gregory, Not Medea premiered at The Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WVA in 2016. Following the narrative of a strong yet flawed female protagonist, Not Medea addresses issues of “love, lust, motherhood and forgiveness” in a unique script structure, blending myth and reality.
Now, I read about Medea in 9th grade classic studies class… but I don’t remember all the details. For those of you who also don’t remember all the details, this is my version of what Wikipedia had to say: Medea was a woman in ancient Greek times, whose husband one day told her that he had married someone else. In a fit of rage and disappointment, Medea kills his new wife, his new wife’s father, and the two young boys that he and Medea share. Then, she takes her two dead kids in her arms and says to him something like, “That’s what you get for being such a bastard.”
Gregory’s Not Medea blends elements of Euripides’ ancient story with modern tales of relationships and motherhood. Yet, surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, the wants, needs, fears and desires of these two protagonists, although written thousands of years apart, are very similar.
As described by Jayne Blanchard for DC Theater, Not Medea “...contrasts the story of Medea with the plight of an everyday, overworked and stressed-out mother who fantasizes a child-free life and partially, cruelly, gets her wish.”
Not Medea opens with Woman, played by Drew Leigh Williams, arriving at the theater trying to find her seat on this, her “night off” from motherhood. She soon finds out that the play she is here to see is Medea, and she is decidedly not happy about it. Allan Snyder plays Woman’s husband, Jason, (also the lover’s name in Euripides’ Medea) and Elizabeth Boyke plays the part of Chorus.
“It’s not a comedy, but there is a lot of comedy in it” says Artistic Director Ginny Gruenert.
Actors Allan Snyder and Drew Leigh Williams are making their off the WALL debut in this show, and this will be the first Actors’ Equity production for director Allison Weakland and actress Elizabeth Boyke.
Pictured: Stage manager Sophia Marshall, Allan Snyder, Elizabeth Boyke, Drew Leigh Williams and director Allison Weakland.