A ‘club’ worth join­ing

The Tribune (NZ) - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - RICHARD MAYS

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.

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