A ‘club’ worth joining
The Book Club, devised by Skin Theatre, directed by Kelly Harris, Dark Room, October 6 - 15
This is a remarkable piece of work. The Book Club is an excuse to get eight women from various backgrounds together in one room on a symbolically dark and stormy night for an evening of catharsis.
It’s also a sneaky way of infiltrating Medea, an Ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides first produced in 431BC, into a contemporary setting.
The old story involves Jason of Golden Fleece fame, who only survives his challenges with the help of the sorceress Medea, who bares him two sons.
However, Jason leaves her for a princess of Corinth, and Medea, plots revenge by killing Jason’s new bride, his father-in-law, and more controversially, their two boys.
Thus Ancient Greece, comes to Palmerston North’s Rangiora Community Hall.
Each of the women get to play Medea when someone else in the group takes exception to their attitude or, despite the ‘‘books, not looks’’ rule, their appearance.
During each turn, the others perform as a Greek chorus, cleverly in one instance using the books containing Euripides’ play, as masks.
While the cathartic device might be an old one, it is performed magnificently by the actors individually and as an ensemble. There is such cohesion and flow in this piece, it’s easy to forgive the soft kiss-and-make-up ending.
Not without its humorous side, the role of women in society, attitudes to work and children, and the shame of child abuse and murder in Aotearoa/New Zealand get an airing.
Enthralling and compelling, The Book Club is a terrific achievement and begs a sequel.