This production asks the audience to be part of the plotMaria Woodford

The company of Medea the Musical tells us what to expect from this COVID-delayed but much-anticipated student-written production.

The story of Medea may be centuries old, but the themes—passion, betrayal, revenge—are timeless, translating easily into a contemporary setting.

But Medea the Musical, which has a four-night run at the Town and Gown in Week 7 and a longer run at the Edinburgh Fringe later this year, is more than just a modern-set version of the classical Greek play. The new musical invites audience members into the courtroom where they themselves determine Medea’s fate, a debate that occurs amidst a genre-defying score.

The diverse array of musical numbers is no surprise to those who’ve already come across writer & composer, Hayley Canham, as the singer-songwriter Cannibal. “I’ve tried to cram every musical genre I can imagine into this production,” she laughs. “Ballads, jazz numbers, pop duets, rock anthems—it’s got the lot.”

Medea the Musical was first workshopped at the end of 2019 as a two-act production, but the current version has been tightened to one act of 75 minutes to make the show more suitable for the Fringe.

“Jason’s about as spineless as a wet lettuce”

The classic Greek chorus has got the chop and the story now focuses on four characters. The first is the scheming Aegeus, played by Gregory Miller, who orchestrates the action, breaking the fourth wall with the audience and manipulating the other characters for his own ends… or out of sheer boredom. “I have a licence to ad lib,” he says. “I don’t know where or how I earned this licence exactly, but I do know that it makes me dangerous!”

Next up is Jason, played by Gabriel Jones, who ditches Medea for a new wife and ends up losing everything, including the god in whom he’s invested so much trust. “He’s about as spineless as a wet lettuce,” admits Jones, “but he’s interesting to play because he’s a complex character whose strengths and flaws combine to destroy him.”

A rock score brings this musical togetherMaria Woodford

Dixie McDevitt is catty Glauce, the new woman in Jason’s life. “I love playing Glauce so much I want to date her—but I’ve always had a thing for toxic girls who know how to twist the knife. She’s so fun because she blurts out things most of us would think but not usually say. She’s got a couple of killer songs too. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t make it through the whole play, but that doesn’t stop her reappearing!”

“I want the audience to appreciate the subtle drivers and motivations behind each character”

Glauce enjoys teasing Jason almost as much as she loves baiting his ex-wife, Medea (played by Canham herself). It’s Medea who’s on trial for weaponizing her children in the most horrific of ways, and it’s Medea who forces the audience as judge and jury to decide whether she’s a pawn in the hands of a manipulative mentor, a madwoman, or a psychopath hell-bent on revenge. “She’s a difficult character to read,” says Canham. “Hopefully she might come across differently on different nights—the audience will definitely have something to chat about in the bar afterwards!”

Fleur Gardner-Wray is our Musical Director and plays keyboard while leading an on-stage band of three other musicians. “It’s been great fun working with such talented performers and musicians to bring the songs to life. I’ve particularly enjoyed the harmonies and working out how best to blend them across the four distinct voices in the cast.”


Mountain View

Footlights comedy is more sweet than sour

Director Maria Telnikoff summarises: “The songs tell the story just as much as the script and, as director, my focus has been to weave them together to ensure a cohesive thread runs through the whole production and allow the audience not only to follow the storyline but appreciate the subtle drivers and motivations behind each character. The beauty of the story is that you think you know why someone acts a certain way and then something is said which makes you challenge that idea.”

“It’s been such a positive experience working with this talented team of performers,” she adds, “and I really hope their passion for the music and characters comes across to the audience just as much as it has during rehearsals. If so, you’re going to love it!”

Medea the Musical (written & composed by Hayley Canham and directed by Maria Telnikoff) debuts at the Town and Gown Theatre & Bar from the 7-10th March at 7.30pm. Tickets can be purchased here.