May 30, 2024

Product Medea 4.0 & The Cock Tavern

Photo Credit: Noonionplease

What’s this?! Wrapped tightly in corporate blue nylon, five sets of corporate hips make their assured entrance on to the stage at the Cock Tavern Theatre. Medea Incorporated, one man and four women, radiate with corporate earnestness, gesticulate with the finesse of a gymnast and smile warmly into our eyes. Over the next hour Medea Incorporate demonstrate and sell us their new Emotion Design Technology, Product Medea 4.0.

To understand Product Medea 4.0, explain the quintet, one must first be made aware of the ancient Greek myth of Medea. In this myth Medea, daughter of the King of Aeetes, deceives her father, kills her brother and flees the country with her new love Jason. Having settled down with Jason in his native land, Medea then finds herself abandoned and forced to leave. In revenge Medea kills the sons she bore by Jason.

On comes Medea, confident, dressed in velvet, face made up and hair done up. She begins an oration, expressing happiness with her new life. The confidence in her voice indicates a sense of contentment with what she has become. And, as she turns to the unfortunate incident of the murder of her two sons, which the tone of her first few words suggests she regards it as an event of minor importance, Medea Incorporated take decisive action.

Confident survivors don’t sell, just as international aid charities know pictures of wealthy Africans don’t sell, just as children’s charities know ugly working class children don’t sell. The lights go down; Medea is hushed and seated in a chair with her back facing us. Slowly but surely Medea Incorporated tenderly derobe her. Medea is left a shivering, disheveled, humiliated woman, curled up naked in the middle of the room. This marks the end of Medea Incorporated’s first lesson in how to sell misery.

Over the remainder of the play Medea Incorporated introduce us to more techniques, including communicating compassion and creating a deserving victim. During this time the quick changes of interlocutor, the passionate deliveries; and the dynamic synchronized movements of the cast keep one enthralled. Each technique demonstrated has an associated training course, which we can subscribe to, which Medea Incorporated provides a glossy corporate advert for.

The characters in the play could be more distinctive. At the beginning we are told that each team member has a different role, the man being PR, with the women having the respective roles of Beauty, Champion, Mother and Friend. Victoria Grove plays the Champion with unnerving self-confidence thanks in part to a voice reminiscent of the royal whispering tone of Margaret Thatcher. The other roles are not expressed sufficiently to feel that it was worth mentioning them. The mother is not nauseating enough, the friend not needy enough and the beauty not self-obsessed enough.

The irony and fatalism of this play may be grating for some but the source of laughter for others. It clearly entertained some, but it is not a comedy. Charity fundraising executives are likely to be left feeling decidedly uncomfortable for the rest of the night. For the rest of us the play is an interesting exposition of the way in which charity is dependent upon humiliation, why do we feel compelled to give only when the subject is sufficiently deprived of their dignity?

Product Medea 4.0 @ The Cock Tavern
2nd-20th June 2009

About Author