National Theatre Live: Medea (2014) - full transcript

Medea, a woman stricken with grief after learning that her ex-husband has decided to remarry is faced with impossible choices in this exhilarating and breathtaking adaptation of Medea.

Listen, there's a story
that has to be told.

We, who've come here today,
have come here for this.


this land is not our home.

I wish to the burning earth beneath
my feet we'd never come here.

I wish that ship, the Argo,
had never sailed to our town.

They came to find a fleece,
a thing of myth,

and they brought destruction,
real and leaking blood.

The day it arrived, the death-ship,

the woman I served, who called me friend,
whose sons I would nurse--Medea--

fell horribly in love
with the Argo's captain,

with Jason,

a demon, a he-devil.

For Jason, she betrayed her country
and stole the fabled gold.

For Jason, she bewitched
the daughters of old King Pelias,

making them mad, until they
slit their royal father's throat.

For Jason, she butchered
her own small brother, Apsyrtus.

Hacking his flesh to pieces
and throwing him to the sea,

food for the sharks.
She did all this for him.

In exile, then, we came here,

traitors, runaways,
to Corinth, this place.

So that first, we were welcomed,
but now the wheel turns.

Our fortune crumbles and wave
upon wave of sorrow floods this house.

Jason has betrayed his family,

his lawful wife and his sons.

He has left them for Kreusa,

the daughter of Kreon, this country's King,

and abandoned she who
loves him more than life.

He remarries today.

Medea has begged him
to remember his vows.

She has begged heaven
to make him remember,

but all in vain he ignores
her craving, aching love,

and drives her to an
awful grief, and nothing,

nothing can come between
this woman and her misery.

She snarls and glares
when anyone approaches

like a lioness protecting her cubs.

But her cubs are here,

with me.

She won't let them
anywhere near her.

Now what she guards
is her loss,

nurturing it into fury.

She has not eaten,
she has not slept,

she is half mad with sorrow,

she cries out for her father
and for her home,

both abandoned for this wretched
place and still more wretched man.

And yet, this…

And yet, this river of
woe hasn't run its course.

Just now, in the town, I
heard the old men talking.

One raised his craggy head and
said that Kreon, for his daughter's sake,

had vowed to banish Medea
and leave her family without a home.

Who knows if it's true?

This dirt-strewn place is full of whispers.

Yet I fear this miserable time,

terrible things breed in broken hearts.
And I see in my mistress' eyes

a fury that won't be calmed.

She can't bear to see her sons,

the products of their father.

So she pushes them away
whilst she stays locked up in grief.

Oh! It can't be long

before her sorrow turns,
as sorrow always does,

into rage.

I know her.

She'll burn the bliss of
Jason and his new wife.

Or else…

Or else,

I can only whisper what I fear the most.

Worse, much worse.

She'll turn a bloody hand to her own house,

her own family.

I ask you, who watch in darkness,
can there be any ending but this?

We are, all of us,

trapped in this pain.

There is nothing for us,
but this story

in this place, for ever.

Oh my father,
my homeland,

did I abandon you for this?
- We hear these cries,

this raging scream of
terror and of hopelessness.

Is this Medea? She's
always been so kind to us.

Oh you gods! How can
you bear this suffering?

This helpless wife must not
hate her husband for leaving.

Fate will judge him
when the time comes.

We're not here to listen
to her morbid self-pity,

but because there's a
chance that this terrible grief

could make her do something foolish.
- Where is she?

We have words of
commiseration for her.

If she'll put her anger to one
side and speak calmly to us,

we'll happily extend
the hand of friendship.

Where is she?

There. Shh!

Look, women of Corinth,

you wives, sisters, daughters,

mothers, here I am.

I don't expect you to console me.

There is no consolation, but I do need
to make sure that when you talk of me,

when you tell my story,

you tell the truth.

Many people before me now have
shown emotion in the face of disaster

and you've called them self-indulgent.

I've heard you.

I have been wronged.

You listen to me then tell me,

if my grief is excessive.

He was everything to me.

And he has gone.

My own husband transformed into a serpent

slithering from my bed to another,
leaving me abandoned,


The fate of a wife, we gave
all we have to our husbands,

our dignity, our self rule,

throwing ourselves
on the mercy of his lust.

He takes what he wants,
who he wants.

We are without agency
subjected to his will,

so we give up everything,
and what do we get in return?


then abandonment.

Men say we live secure and safe
while they go to war to defend us.

Well, I would rather fight
in a thousand awful battles,

spilling blood on an enemy's sword

than once more face
the dangers of childbirth.

The unknown agonies,

as death
and life dance together.

But for him, I did it.

I gave him two sons

and more. I turned on my family,

my home, and came here

to this wretched place.

I became a traitor.

I broke my father's heart

and I smiled.

I felt my brother's blood
on my hands and I smiled.

I watched a king's throat open like
a second mouth, I did it all for him.

Tell me,

how could a man who I once worshiped
as a god suddenly turn into a devil?

I know, you don't want to hear this story,

you have husbands.

You're close to your
fathers, your families.

I am destitute.

I have no city,

no father, no brother.
There is no haven for me now,

no safety. There is only destruction.

Soon I will find a way to revenge
myself on him who was mine,

on his virgin bride and her royal father.

For we women, though
not designed for battle,

still when we have been wronged
our hearts can overflow

with deadly passion
and venomous steel.

So go please, don't stay here.

In case this plague that haunts my door
suddenly turns itself on you.

I'll do better by myself.

I want nothing but your silence.

Keep my grief secret.

We'll keep silent for you,
you wretched woman.

Your revenge, if you can
take it would be well justified.

- The king approaches.
- Kreon.


listen to me.
I don't have long.

It's the day of my only
daughter's wedding.

And I'd rather be
anywhere than here.

But news of your cursing, wailing,

all your threats of
vengeance has reached me

and I am forced to act.

Remove yourself from this place.

From this moment, you're exiled.

Pick up your things,
take your children

and leave this country now.
- And now I see my utter ruin!

Troubles come upon me like great waves
and my small ship has no hope of a harbor.

You call yourself a ruler.

How could you torture me
like this? Why am I banished?

Honestly because I'm afraid of you.

You're a foreigner and
your nature is dark, unknown.

I fear for the safety of my child.

And the man I'll soon be
proud to call her husband,

him that you still call yours.

You're half mad with
bitterness and jealousy.

I hear everything and I hear
that you threatened Jason,

threatened my daughter,
even threatened me.

So I am banishing you for all our sakes.

I'd rather have you
hate me and be rid of you

than have you stay and live to regret it.

Well, this is not the first time, Kreon,
that my reputation has caused me trouble.

You think I might be a witch, that I
might be some strange, dangerous monster

because I wasn't born here
and because I'm a woman.

Women of Corinth,

don't teach your daughters
to think for themselves.

They'll encounter nothing,
but suspicion and mistrust.

You think I mean harm upon your house?

I ask you.

Have I not reason to seek revenge?

But do not fear me.

I'm in no position to fight with kings.

You have not injured
me, nor has your daughter,

both of you have acted
wisely in your own interests.

I do not grudge you happiness.

Let me stay.

It's the only home I have.

And though I have been wronged,
grossly wronged. I will be still and quiet.

These words are soft.

They would move one
with less resolve than me.

But I fear,

I fear your magic
and your anger.

I'll defend my home. Whatever
you say, you shall be exiled,

speak no more, I am settled.
- No, do not say so.

I… I… I bend my knees and I beg you,

In the name of Kreusa, your daughter,
who stands now in her wedding dress.

Think of her and show some
mercy to a defenseless woman.

- Don't waste your breath, I am decided.
- You'll banish me,

- you ignore my suffering.
- I will, I must.

How can I put your needs
above my own family?

Oh! What a terrible god is love.

He bruises, tortures and abandons us.

That was your fate. It isn't everyone's.

Oh hear me,
divine justices.

Don't let Jason, the author of these
troubles, escape your vengeance.

I have been patient long enough.

I tell you again, leave
Corinth immediately.

I have a wedding to attend.

Go now voluntarily or my
soldiers will force you out.


I'll go. I'll leave.

Enough, enough. Just go.

It's easier for us all
if you leave quietly.

Give me a day, so I can
make arrangements for leaving.

No, plan how my sons will survive
now their father has abandoned them.

You have children, so pity mine.

I know you don't care what
happens to me, but save them.

Give me one day.

I'm capable of some pity,
Medea. I'm no monster.

Take a day, make arrangements for travel.

But rest assured if tomorrow
morning finds you or your children

still within my borders,

you all shall die.

This is my ruling.

It won't be reversed.

I weep for the blows
that rain down upon you.

What protection will you find?

Medea, we're lost.
- Oh you fool,

I might be choked with misery,
famished by grief,

but there's still life in me,
I'm not finished.

There is trouble coming
to the House of Kreon.

Do you honestly believe I would kneel
and weep in front of a man like that,

except to get my own way.

I wouldn't have touched him, if
I didn't think we could be saved.

He thinks he's in charge.

He will live to regret the moment
he allowed me to stay here,

a single second more.

One day is not long.

But in that time, I will bring
destruction down on Kreon,

on Jason, and on
his pale new wife.

They'll feel the quiet touch of
death before I leave Corinth.

I only need to decide how.

Shall I set fire to the palace?

Watch them burn as they take their vows.

Or better still,

visit them while they lie asleep
in their false wedding bed,

stinking of sweat and sin,
and turn their white sheets red?

Too dangerous,

if I were discovered, it would be
my life, not theirs, which would end.

There's only one way.

The way women have always
taken our revenge, poison.

Watch their bodies being
eaten from the inside,

see the liquid fire
sear through their veins,

and feel my revenge roaring.

But doing this now is reckless.

Nowhere else would accept
me if I have murdered in Corinth.

I must wait, pray that some pillar
of defense rises up in my name.

Then, when support is
assured, I'll fulfill my destiny.

And if help doesn't come,

then the hour before I'm
due to leave this place,

I'll go their palace with my sword
and I will send them all to judgment.

By you Hecate,

the queen that dwells within me,

I swear that not one of them shall
wound my heart and go unpunished.

I will see their marriage end
more bitter even than mine.

I will do this.

Up then Medea,

onto the danger,

I need courage now more than ever.

As like a final pregnancy, I
feel fate start to grow within me.

I am of the Sun God's race

and I have courage
enough to see this through.

More than that,

I'm a woman

and we have seen
enough, each of us,

to call ourselves experts in terror,

experts in pain.

Oh my innocent boys,

this darkness wasn't meant for your ears.

I wish it had not been for mine.

Go! Go, run play.

Do not go near your mother.

I see the clouds filling the sky,

a storm approaches.

Soon the rain will begin
to fall and we'll be drowned.

Now the tide of the
almighty sea runs backwards.

Day and night are interchanged
and the order of the universe is reversed.

Men, once thought of as honest,
are revealed as treacherous.

Women, forever slandered
by the tongue of gossip,

feel a change come over our lives

as the sun of honor and
of truth shines only upon us.

The dead poets shall no
longer sing of our unfaithfulness.

Phoebus, god of music,

give us the gift of song that we may sing
to the open sky of the wretchedness of men.

Jason's disloyalty to Medea
proves they can't be trusted.

Desire blinded her and
now desire leads him away.

It has often been said
that sex is the root of evil

and it has proved so here.

Promises no longer
carry any weight or grace.

Men have stripped that from them.

Now we alone carry
truth upon our backs

and it's a weight
we can easily bear.

So take your revenge, Medea.
The gods support you.

Though you have no friends
and no home, we'll help you if we can.

Justice must be recognized.



I've told you before

more than once

that your temper would
get you into trouble.

You could have stayed here.

You could have been happy again.

Now you've forced
yourself into exile.

Your words don't hurt me.

I've forgiven all
the terrible curses,

the vengeful lies you've spat at me;
I petitioned Kreon to let you stay.

But you are your own worst enemy.

You've insulted the royal
family one too many times.

You scared the king

and the result is banishment.

Still, I don't hate you.

I'll support you and our sons in exile.
You won't be destitute. Trust me.

Trust you, Jason.

Oh, you're a foul and
craven mess of a man.

You come here my enemy--the gods'
enemy--and you ask me to trust you?

Have you fallen so far into lust you've
lost a sense of your own shame?

I'm glad you're here.

It makes me stronger in
my loathing just to see you.

Just to show you what you've made of me.

Look at me.

I saved your fetid useless life.

I loved you like no
woman has loved before.

I abandoned my father.

I slaughtered my brother.
Have you forgotten?

I gave you sons.

I bled them out for you and
you have thrown me away.

You have turned
everything upside-down.

Do promises mean nothing to you?

Do you think that the gods have died,

that you could so easily break
the oaths you made in their names?

You see this damned
hand which once you held?

You see this body you used
to embrace, polluted now,

having been touched by you,
infected and infested with your seed?

Just for old times' sake, let's
pretend I don't despise you.

You've said you'd help me.

Then tell me, Jason,
where shall I go?

Where shall your bastard
sons and I settle ourselves?

Back to Colchis, our so-called home?

Where I dyed the sand with
innocent blood to give you pleasure?

Well, think what a
welcome we'd receive there.

You'll support us?

There's nowhere for us to go!


To think of us as you sit
down at your wedding meal.

Your family reduced by
you to wretches, to beggars,

reduced to nothing, to
think of us and choke.

I hoped not to have to trade words
with you like this.

It seems I must defend
myself against these charges,

steer my course safely through
the storms your tongue whips up.

Your sacrifices?

I've given you more
than you ever gave me.

I married you,
I made you happy, I civilized you.

You'd never known law or justice.
You were nothing when I found you.

Now you talk with kings and cry to gods.

I don't go to Kreusa
out of lust or greed.

Or because I hate our
old life, I go to survive.

We are strangers here,

we have no friends.

We would have starved.

I will not see my sons, my family,
gasping and shivering in poverty.

Whilst I have breath I will see them
live the best lives I can give them.

Now I'll be a prince and can
keep you and your sons safe.

Keep my family safe.
Is that wrong?

You're jealous of Kreusa.

Blind with envy, or you would be
able to see the wisdom in what I do.

Do you really expect these
sighs, these words, to win me now?

You're the most callous,
the most sick-hearted of men.

Or you'd have told me of your scheme.

Asked for my consent for
this most generous of acts.

Protecting your sons?

Giving them a better life,

when, like a thief
creeping through the night,

spurred on by pathetic, midlife lust,
you hid your plans and you deserted us.

And if I discussed it with
you, you'd have agreed?

- Look at you!
- We both know why

- How could I have told you?
- left.

You looked to the future

and you saw yourself old,
with an old foreign wife,

bringing shame on you.
- Think what you like,

I'm marrying Kreusa
to ensure our safety,

yours, mine, and the boys,

to make our family
steady with royal blood.

In the name of heaven,
woman, stop this stubbornness.

Open your eyes

and see the help that I am offering you.
- Spare us all, Jason, from your help.

Your help offered nothing
but destruction and exile.

That was your own fault.
Don't blame me for that.

My fault? Was I the one
who betrayed our family?

You cursed the king, you threatened
his daughter and his palace.

What did you expect?

My curse falls not only on Kreon,
but on all who have wronged me.

Be warned, Jason.

This argument is over.

If you will take money to
support the children or yourself

in exile, I give it willingly.

If you need help,
I'll petition friends of mine

to take you in. Medea, let me help.

- It's madness to refuse.
- I will have nothing,

nothing to do with your friends,
your help, nothing to do with you.

The help of a monster
can do me no good.

The gods have seen
that here, I offered myself,

my contacts and my
resources to your aid.

The troubles will only
increase by ignoring me.

Leave us alone.

Oh, you stay too long
away from your young bride.

She's waiting, Jason.

Go wed her now.

For, God willing, you'll have
a marriage like no other.

Medea, to see you like this is to see
the love and madness go always together.

The extremities of passion
lead us only into terrible danger.

I pray I live my life free
from love's burning temper,

that my soul never knows jealousy
or the wild desire that led to this.

Medea, to see you like this
is to see the horror of exile.

To be torn again from your home
and thrown to the mercy of fortune.

The future for you
now is dark uncertainty.

I pray I never know the
helpless anguish of an outcast.

Forced to walk the earth.

Forever living out of bags and boxes.

May those who have brought you so low.

Who show so little pity.

- May they perish.
- May they burn.

May they know the pain
that now we see in you.

Hey, Medea!

No friend was ever greeted fairer.
- Welcome. Aegeus,

King of Athens.

Oh! My friend.

What are you doing here
in this unlovely place?

Ah, I was visiting the Oracle,

a wandering fool seeking wisdom.

What did you want to know
that brought you so far?

I asked the truest of truth tellers
why my wife and I remain childless,

unblessed with offspring.

Still no children?

Still no children.

We continue alone.

I'm sorry to hear that.

What did the Oracle reply?

Ah, he spoke words
too subtle for man to understand.

How will you unlock the prophecy?

I'm going to ask for guidance from
Pittheus, an expert in these matters.

But I thought that before I left,

I'd visit my old friend
and her young family.


Mm, for the boys.

- Yes.
- Yes.

- Yeah.
- Yes.

I wish you luck.

I hope you find your answers

but you cannot visit my family.

My family's broken for ever.

What's happened?

My husband,

he has abused me.

He's abandoned me.

What do you mean? Where is he?

He's taken another wife.

He's left me.

Left our sons,
left us destitute.

I can't believe it, another wife.

He's marrying her today.

Now he's in love,
grossly in love

with the little girl,
Kreon's daughter.

If Jason has betrayed
you, then he is a villain.

O, Medea, I don't
know what to say.

- There are no words.
- I'm so sorry.

Your marriage,

always seemed so
complete a partnership.

To see it broken, smashed to
pieces before me, it hurts my heart.

Aegeus, I am undone, bereft,

and at Kreon's command, my
sons and I are banished from the city.

As of tomorrow, we're exiles.

Does Jason allow this cruelty? He
stands by and watches you cast out?

He does nothing, nothing to help us.

I implore you in the name
of friendship, pity me?

I do. I do.

- How can I help you?
- Don't let us be cast into the elements.

Receive us in your
city, in your palace.

Help us.

You'd seek sanctuary in Athens.

Help us and I will see
you blessed with children.

I can do it.
Where the Oracle fails,

I will succeed.

I have the magic of my ancestors.

My drugs are potent,
you know it's true.

I'll give you children.

Help me and help yourself.

If you would do this,

then for your sake and your sons
and yes, I admit it, also for myself,

I'll give you shelter,
come to my palace.

You will live in safety
for as long as you wish.

No man shall harm you.

- My friend.
- But, I can't take you with me from here.

I can't risk offending Kreon.

Make the journey yourself
and you'll be welcome.

- I'll do it.
- And I will do all I can to protect you.

Do swear!

- Don't you trust me?
- I trust you,

but Jason and Kreon
are strong enemies

an oath will mean that you cannot give
me up when they come to drag me off.

I live weak in the shadow of their power.

- What shall I swear by?
- Swear...

by the earth, by the life giving,
life crushing dry, brown dirt.

Swear by the Sun Gods
who birthed my race.

Swear by my ancestors
and by your own.

Swear by all the gods at once.

Swear never to expel
me from your land,

never, while you have breath, to allow
anyone to rip me from your protection.

I swear, by the earth,

by the Sun God,

and by the whole host of heaven.

Then it's done.

And if you break this oath now

what curse do you
invoke upon yourself?

Whatever falls upon
the worst blasphemer,

let it fall on me.

Go, then, in peace.

When I have finished here and
have done what must be done,

I'll join you in your city.

And make your family grow.

Goodbye, my friend.

Goodbye, Medea.

I'll welcome you in Athens!

The moment of greatest distress,

when all hopes seemed to
have died, this king appears

like a welcoming harbor
to my shipwrecked life,

the gods are on my side.

O, my friends,

we have started on our
road towards victory.

This sad man gives me hope

that my foes shall
wither before me

in a terrible and
shrieking vengeance.

I see now what I must do.

There are things that cannot be avoided.

The wheels are turning and
we cannot step off this road.

Go to the wedding and
ask Jason to come to me.

When he arrives I'll use soft words
telling him what he longs to hear.

"Blessing his marriage,"

his command is sacred.

In the name of womanhood, go.

I'll give him a gift for
his young blushing bride,

a cloak, exotic, strange,

warm yet delicate,

beautiful and drenched in death.

So addled with my poison
that the moment she puts it on,

her skin will burn,
shrinking, bubbling like fire.

And she and all who touch
her would die in terrible agony.

This is revenge,

but it's only a beginning.

There's something moving in the shadows.


to give Jason the bitter taste

I carry with me since he left.

Everything he does he does for them.

They're the sun
that lights his world,

so I will plunge
him into darkness.

Those that I bore him
in the agonies of love,

those that I gave to him so will I
take back from him, take back for ever.


unthinkable crime
against the gods

and yet,

to do it here,

and then escape in safety to Aegeus.

This would truly be revenge.

No one will say of me that I sat weak
and dispassionate like wives before me.

I choose to take back my life.

- My life!
- Can we speak?

- It cannot be stopped.
- Could you honestly do it?

Lift the knife to your children's throats?

I could.

I will,

because in ending their lives,
I end Jason's happiness.

Never again would he
know peace or sleep.

And when he closed their eyes,
he would see only their blood.

The knife that cuts their
throat would sit for ever,

resting gently against his heart.

- But in doing it you destroy yourself.
- It doesn't matter.

Can't you see,

he left me.

- I'm already nothing.
- Medea, please, listen.

Think of Aegeus, King of Athens.

Think of his sacred city?

How will he receive you?

How can he receive you? If you do
what you propose to your own children?

Ugh, my stomach turns to think of it,

of their trusting bodies
yielding beneath you,

to think of their blood
staining your hands, your mind.

We implore you, do
not kill your babies.

They will beg for
mercy from their mother.

How will you refuse? You cannot.

You asked for me
and I come to you.

Even in the middle of
my wedding celebrations.

Despite the hate-filled
words you fling at me,

I'm here.

When we last spoke, husband.

My words burnt with anger.

I was drowning in loss.

I'm sorry.

I beg your pardon for my sharpness,

my intensity of feeling.

See it as a sign of the
love we want shared.

I thought about what you said

about your reasons for leaving,

to protect our sons and me,

to bless us with a royal connection.

I can see the wisdom in all of this.

It was wrong of me to curse you,

to allow my womanly jealousy
to blind me to your wisdom.

I blame myself,
my pride, my sex.

I ask forgiveness.

Bring them out, to show
the regrown love and friendship,

I hold towards you and your bride.

You can see our sons.

They can see their father.


Stand now next to your
father. Jason, take his hand.

They look so like you.

It pains me to think
of the hidden future

that lies ahead for us three.

Hidden, yet surely hard.

Yet, when I see your
eyes, Jason, in their eyes,

I know they will grow
up safe and strong.

Boys, release your father's
hands and go and play.

You know now that your
parents are good friends.

How can we see this and stay
quiet, knowing what is to come?

This is the greatest of terrors.

- The very ground beneath us is diseased.
- It boils.

Oh, my wife.

For this gift,

thank you.

I do not blame you
for what has passed.

Your anger was understandable,

but your wisdom
and your goodness

in allowing me here

in letting me see my beloved boys,

in letting me help you,
this was grace.

My boys,

you are my proudest

And I see you tall,

stand over your enemies.

I'll see you returned to your father
when I am king of this place,

to sit in glory

and you, Medea, with us.

- Why are you crying?
- I was thinking of them.

Be comforted.

I'll see to it that all is well with them.

I trust you.

See these tears simply as a
sign of a woman's weakness.

Tell me what upsets you.

I brought them into this world

and when I think of the cruelty of life,

of fate, I cannot help but weep for them.

Enough of this foolishness.

There was another reason I asked you here.

Firstly to apologize for
my rash, hateful words

and to unite you with your sons.


to ask you to take our side.

Speak to Kreon for us.

No, for though I know I must be banished,
these boys have cursed no one.

They are innocent,

let them stay.

Beg the king to reconsider
his verdict of exile

and allow them to remain here in
this city with their father, with you.

You'll let them stay?

I know they'll be safe with you.

I don't know if I can persuade him.

Well at least ask Kreusa, your wife,

to ask her father
to show them leniency,

to let them stay.

He won't refuse her.

Not today.

I'm sure she'll do it.

Let me help you to persuade her.

I have a wedding gift for you,

so precious, so rare,
that if our sons present it to her

she's surely to petition
her father on their behalf.

A cloak of delicately tissued silk,

given my people by the
Sun God--an immortal gift.

This girl who you have taken as your
own will feel so blessed by this, not once

but by a thousand times over.

She has noblest
man to share her love

and now she has the
noblest gift to seal the match.

You boys, you'll take
this gift to the royal bride,

your father's princess love.

But, Medea, this gift, you should keep it.

Don't you think a royal palace
has enough gold and silk of its own?

Keep it,
you need things of worth.

Kreusa values me
above all gifts, all wealth,

she's rich enough, keep this yourself.

Even the gods are swayed
by gifts of such beauty.

Now fortune smiles on Kreusa,

she is brimful of blessings.

Her triumph of love, of
youth, of beauty is complete.

I would give up my
life, let alone this trifle,

to secure the safety of our own sons.

You boys,

when you arrive at the wedding,

you stand up tall

and you beg the princess

in your sweetest voices

to take up your caurse
and to help you to stay

and as you beg,
you hand her this.

Make sure she takes it
in her own royal hand.

May you succeed in this

and return with the news
your mother longs for.

You girl, go with them
bring them safely back.


And all our hopes are gone,

our hopes that these boys might be spared.

They are doomed,

as surely as the princess, tempted by
this cloak, will wrap herself up in death.

We see in your eyes, the
poison that sits on this gift,

the darkness it brings.

And sure enough

as your sons deliver death,

so the clouds grow fat and your
servant's vision of rain approaches,

the heavens rumble.

We pity her, poor wretch,

daughter of a king and
bound to the worst possible fate,

and her new husband,

who little thinks of the destruction he
brings on the one he says he now loves,

and worse, worse
on his dear sons,

and we pity you,
hapless, helpless mother,

who'll kill her children, the
most precious part of herself,

because she and they
have been abandoned.

O gods, let your fury fall,

let the skies blacken
like burning flesh,

drive out remaining light.

Night will swallow all.

Jason sends me
back with your boys

and news to lift your spirits:
they were received by his bride.

She took their gift in her own white hands

and they are freed from exile.

- Ah!
- Why do you sigh?

You look faint, but this
is your hour of success.

- Don't you see that this is good news?
- Help me, I shall fall…

Isn't this what you wanted to hear?

I thought this news would please you.

The news is what it is.

- Don't cry, the tide turns for you.
- Yes, the tide turns.

It rolls out as the gods and I intended,
yet it makes me sick.

I see why you're upset.

Your boys will stay here
whilst you must leave,

but comfort yourself,
at least they will be safe.

You've given your news,
go back to the wedding.

Jason will need
you soon I'm sure.

Thank you for bringing
them safely back.

Before you speak,

go inside and prepare
a bath for my sons.


Do not speak to me.

Oh, my boys,

is this how it will be

you remaining here
with a city, a father,

a home, while I am
cast into the sea.

Will I not see you grow?

I thought I'd be with you
when you became men,

found wives.

I thought I would
deck your bridal beds

with the rarest flowers
of our homelands,

reminders of your ancestors.

Seems it was for nothing I
went through the agonies of labor.

I screamed as my body tore in
two to bring you forth. I thought,

at least in the weakness of old age, I
would have you there to comfort me.

It seems I'll be denied

and all my sufferings
will have been in vain.

I'm going to lose you.

And I will drag myself through
the rest of life in a terrible sadness.

Why do you look at me?

And why do you smile?

Oh, no, do not, do not raise these
hands to wipe away these tears,

nothing can remove them.

Oh, when I see your eyes

I forget everything
I've said, my plans.

No, I'll not go through with it.

I cannot hurt you to hurt your
father, for in doing so I'll maim myself.

I'll take you with me.

Oh, my boys,
we'll find fresh soil.

When I look at you, my boy,

I always remember my brother.

Who Jason had me
slice into tiny pieces.

Can he go free?

This man who has
torn my soul in two?

This fear, this woman's
weakness, I must fight it.

I see your eyes on
me, you girls of Corinth.

You heard the softness
flow from my lips.

No more; look on me, and see a
godly strength in this earthly body.

Look on me and see vengeance.

Get away from me,

go into the house, find your
nurse, clean yourselves up.

If you cannot look on this act,

this sacrifice, you
silent accusers, then go.

Run back to your gentle lives
and your loving homes.

This place is not for you

or stay and see. Ah! Do not!

My heart,

do not do this thing.

My heart has torn in two.

Do not do this thing.

My babies, they'll protect me in old age.
Let them live.

Let them live.

Let them live!

And hand them to my enemies,
to be damned, to be butchered,

to be cursed with
their mother's name?

This cannot be.

By you devils, that dwell
deep within the earth,

by the cursed name of
Hecate, my mighty ancestors,

they must die and it is fitting
that their mother holds the knife.

There is no escape.

The circle turns.

And as I speak and grieve, in the
palace of Kreon, a terrible vengeance,

my vengeance, grips Kreusa.

And even now, the robe on her
shoulder and her skin begins to burn

and as I think of her,
my confidence grows.

I am through the crisis.

My sons! I can say goodbye.

My babe.

Let your mother kiss you.

Let me hold your
tender head next to mine.

You must know, my sons,

that you are so dear to me

that I will send you
safely to another place.

Your father has robbed you
of your home and your family,

but I will direct you to safety.

Now go inside, I
cannot look at you.

My sorrow defeats me.


At last the way is clear.

I understand what has been

and what I must do. See, see!

The gods fulfill the prophet's words!

The sky is black, so be it.

Fly, Medea!

You must gather your things

and leave this place!

You have done
an appalling thing.

Don't hesitate here, go!

- What's happened that requires my flight?
- The princess is dead.

Her skin withered up, and Kreon too.
Thank to your poison.

The news is good. I'm glad.

Are you insane?

Can you smile at the
devastation of our royal house?

At this evil, this horror?

- Are you not afraid?
- Just tell me what happened.

The manner of their deaths.

If they have suffered it will
bring me greater pleasure.

When your sons,

hence at the palace, they
were received with joy,

welcomed like doves of peace.

Everyone thought
that their arrival proved

that you and Jason had
settled your arguments.

At first Kreusa didn't want to see
them, but Jason persuaded her,

instructed her as his wife to embrace them.

And when she saw the gift
they brought her, she smiled

and agreed to lift the sentence upon
them. They were banished no more.

She took the robe from its packing,

wrapped it around her and
admired her breathless image.

She moved through the
wedding, receiving admiring looks

from all who saw her, but then

oh horror.

She suddenly turned white.

Her eyes rolled
in on themselves.

She began to foam
at her colorless mouth.

Someone raised a cry,

an inhuman shriek of panic,
and Jason and Kreon came running,

racing to observe her desperate end,

they watched,


as the robe devoured,

consumed, ravaged her flesh.

Till there was nothing but chalky
bone and matted, charred hair.

Her remains lay still,

all life extinguished.

Kreon dropped to his knees

and took the broken
body in his arms,

held her to his and
rocked and wailed,

lamenting that he at his
age should lose a daughter.

He tried to stand,

but the robe that had devoured
Kreusa was now attached to him.

He struggled,

tearing his flesh as the court
looked on in stricken horror,

he ripped himself away and collapsed,

devoid of breath,

devoid of life.

The corpse of the king and his daughter's
remains lie piled on the marble floor

a heaped mountain of death.

I cannot tell you of the face of Jason,

the anguish,

the despair that overtook him.

Words cannot capture the
color of his grieving eyes.

Quickly, if you want
to escape, go now.

I can't be found here.

Run, Medea,

for the sake of your sons,


Oh, my friends,

witnesses to what must come.

Know that I am resolute,

the time has come to act

to perform my final deed in Corinth

and then leave for Athens.

I must take my children's lives

or leave them to someone else,

some crueler hand be their butcher.

I'm their mother.

I brought them forth in pain

and I must take them
from this world in peace.

They are clean, they are
innocent, they are prepared.

Steel yourself, my heart.
Ah! Still I hesitate.

Oh you pathetic
weak willed woman.

A devastated life
stretches before me.

I must embrace this emptiness.

Now, Medea,

without a thought to who
you are, who they are,

throw off your sex.

There is only this time,
this place, this moment now!

Oh, god of the
sun show yourself,

shine down upon this
lost woman and intervene.

Change her awful fate,

only once before have we heard
of a mother destroying her babies.

Ino, mother of two sons
butchered by her hand,

the gods made her mad and she
frothed and flamed around her boys.

She killed herself,

cast herself over a cliff
into the great black sea.

What horrors will follow--can follow--here?

Oh, God, stay her hand,

destroy the demons that possess
her soul and save their lives.

Did she birth these babes,

tend them,

nurture them only to drag
them down to an unnatural end?

Their blood dripped on this
ground will pollute the earth,

infect the air.

This will become a place of death.

Oh, gods,

act now and spare us all.

Tell me now where she is!

Is she still here or has she fled?

She'd better hide.

Either throw herself down into
the earth or soar above the clouds

if she wishes to avoid vengeance,

avoid justice! Medea!


Did she think she could
do this and escape?

After destroying the royal
family, the rulers of the city?

My new wife,

her father the King!

Did she think she could do this and escape?

But I'm not thinking clearly.

None of this matters now.

Her punishment will
come when it comes,

I'm here for my boys,

my sons,

to take them from her.

Where are my sons?

Where are my sons?

Where are my sons?

Jason, you don't know
how unhappy you are.

You are too late.


What can make this worse?
Does she want to kill me too?

Your sons are dead.

She has killed, killed them both.

What have you said?

Pull those words back.

Out of the air between
us. They hang there!

Pull them back!

What? What did you say?

Be sure of this, they are gone.



They've gone.

She's taken them.

Where is she?


Ah, my heart will break.


You are foolish to
go searching, Jason.

Were you looking for them or for me?

Say what you like.

We're beyond you now.

You see me transformed.

My ancestors have revealed themselves
to me, prompted by my courage,

and delivered me to greatness.

What… have… you… done?

What have you done?

You shall be hated,

cursed by the gods,

by all mankind,
by me for ever.

How are you still living,

still breathing, after this wickedness?

How does the same sun that
shone on my boys still shine on you?

Now I see

the curse that followed
you has turned itself on me.

I'm punished now for saving you,

punished for loving you.

Now you,

who killed your brother and
betrayed your father,

wedding me to sate your
disgusting lust in my bed,

who bore me sons, my sons.

You are trying to kill me with grief,

you are trying to break my heart.

Look at you,

nothing I say can touch you now.

Oh, die, Medea.

Go from here

wither and rot

back into the cursed
ground you came from.

The gods know
how much I loved you,

how you betrayed me,

how with surgical precision
you cut me out of my own life

and they know and you know
now how I have repaid you.

They were your sons!

And I grieve for them.

But to touch your heart,

to make you finally feel
something of my pain,

it soothes me.

Oh, my boys, what
a mother I gave you.

Know, my sons, it was your
father that slaughtered you today.

I didn't kill them!

- The gods know who is to blame.
- They know you.

They know evil.

Oh, Jason, there's no
such thing as good and evil.

We are both as
wretched as each other.

We'll fly to Aegeus,
to safety.

Far, far from this home.

Far from this blood-stained land.

I'll carry you boys to safety.

They are dead.

Dead! Dead!

Drowned in blood.

Drowned in their parents' sin.

Give them to me. Let me bury them.

They are beyond you now.

Go back to your rotting wife,

there's nothing more here.

Nothing more.




Up, Medea!

We'll fly to Aegeus

to peace.

To peace with my sons.

Oh, come to me, my children.

I see my ancestors.

Lifting me now.

Carry me!

Purging me!




We are not subject
to our own wills,

our own desires,

but to the fates and the
fortunes that the gods hand to us.

The future is turned before our
eyes into wrenching heartache,

into ashes and to splinters.

From today, I know
that truly hope is dead.

I ask you again,

you who watch,

how can there ever be any ending but this?

First, silence.

Then darkness.