The play itself might be almost 2,500 years old, but Seana McKenna and Scott Wentworth see nothing old in the story of a woman who takes gruesome revenge on her husband after he leaves her, killing her rival as well as the woman’s father, before murdering her own children.
Wentworth plays Jason — he of the Argonauts and Golden Fleece — as a workaholic having a midlife crisis, and a character all too typically male in his flaws.
“He’s one of those guys who’s 50 years old and starting a new business, still working 12 hours a day and he can’t not conquer,” says the U.S.-born actor and Stratford veteran. “He can’t stop. It’s a compulsion for a man like Jason, like it’s a compulsion for Medea — she can’t suffer in silence. I think that’s very human.”
McKenna, a Stratford star like Wentworth, first played the role 17 years ago in the production, directed by her husband Miles Potter, currently being revived with a run starting at the Canon Theatre this week.
“I started with her pain, basically, which is where she starts in the play, being left by the husband she’s given up everything for,” McKenna recalls. “She acts like a male Greek hero and avengers herself on her enemies. She does it, basically, because, as she says, ‘I loathed you more than I loved them.’”
“He’s un-self-reflective,” Wentworth says of Jason. “It’s all outward — it’s all action, action, action. He’s more connected to the gods, to his vision of fate and his place in history than he is to his own wife. I find that frighteningly contemporary and frighteningly masculine.
“This is a tough play to be a man in,” Wentworth says.