Theater review: Absolute Originals at Intermedia Arts
William Randall Beard
Special to the Star Tribune

Published Feb. 19, 2003 ORIG19

For many one-person shows, traditional theater elements such as plot and set matter less than the personality of the performer. Reaction to two of the personalities in Intermedia Arts' Absolute Originals festival will determine appreciation of their performance.

Improvisational comedian Jill Bernard seizes the stage in "Medea, Medea." It's hard not to admire her audacity. Her Medea is one ticked-off woman, having killed her brother to help her husband, Jason, only to be abandoned by him for a princess. Killing their children is, for her, a fitting act of revenge.

Bernard pulls out all the stops, turning Medea's rant into something hilarious. Punk rock seems invented for the character's screeching rage. She is even more successful playing Jason as a jock without a clue.

Glauce, Jason's new bride, and her father, King Creon, are played by crude puppets made from plastic foam balls. Their amateurishness seems to be the point. A flow chart provides the audience members, who participate as the chorus, with lines to read aloud.

The work is a bit over-the-top, and the performance is rather undisciplined. But Bernard's raw energy is compelling.

For all the zany antics, however, she offers a blandly straightforward retelling of the Greek myth and no personal insights into the ancient character. But if comic style without much cosmic substance is enough, "Medea, Medea" will prove satisfying.