Nobody could accuse Jasmin Vardimon of being short of ideas. During rehearsals for Medusa, there must have been lightbulbs popping above her head 24 hours a day. At some point in every creative process, however, the time comes to cherry-pick the “keepers” and sweep away the rest. Clearly the choreographer skipped that bit.
Jasmin Vardimon: Medusa, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh **
Medusa is rich in so many ways: set design, social context, intellect, emotional intent – yet we can’t see (or feel) the wood for the trees. Vardimon never set out to re-tell the myth of Medusa, and it’s just as well, as the original narrative is scarcely visible. Instead she was inspired by the way history has treated this particular aspect of Greek mythology – namely forgetting that Medusa’s flowing locks were turned into snakes as a consequence of her being raped by Poseidon.
Vardimon has taken this crucial but largely lost piece of information and fused it to the #MeToo movement. Thus her show is overflowing with female ill-treatment that’s as pertinent now as it was centuries ago. So far so good. She’s also deeply troubled, as we all should be, by the devastating impact plastic refuse is having on our planet – depicted through smoke-puffing chimneys and a sea of plastic sheeting covering the floor. At times this evocative, if not terribly subtle, staging is a backdrop for powerful synchronised movement packed with energy and drive. But mostly, Medusa meanders from one thought bubble to the next, with little regard for a coherent whole.