It’s not uncommon these days to read about some horrific thing that one person has done to another and wonder what caused them to embark on such a destructive path. Lenka Udovicki, an internationally-known director of theatre and opera, is bringing to the Los Angeles stage one of the most tragic characters of all time, the ultimate woman scorned, Medea. Udovicki’s inspiration, and the centerpiece of what promises to be a shattering production at UCLA Live, is acclaimed film and stage actress Annette Bening.
“We met socially a year and a half ago,” says Udovicki. “And we had this immediate mutual connection in our shared passion for the theatre. I knew she had the emotional complexity, the depth and the beauty to become Medea.”
While using visually stunning modern touches, the production also incorporates classical elements of Greek theatre, including live music, dance and a chorus. Medea, a barbarian princess and witch, is brought back home to Corinth by her lover, the great warrior Jason, and bears his two sons. A political opportunist, though, Jason abandons Medea to marry another king’s daughter. What happens next is terrible but, considering the circumstances, not altogether surprising. What Udovicki seeks in her “Medea” is an examination of her heroine’s humanity, not just the horror of her final act of vengeance.
“Medea is a woman who was born to love” says Udovicki. “I really believe we are all born innocent creatures, and it’s really life and circumstances and passion that drive us to do the things we do.”
“Medea” plays at the Freud Playhouse (in UCLA’s Macgowan Hall at 245 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles) Wednesday, September 23 (continuing Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 7pm) through October 18. Tickets range from $80 to $110 ($50 or $30 for previews), and can be purchased online at www.UCLALive.org, by phone at (310) 825-2101, in person at the UCLA Central Ticket Office at the southwest corner of the James West Alumni Center, and at all Ticketmaster outlets. UCLA students may purchase tickets in advance for $20 ($15 for previews). Previews are September 18, 19 and 22 at 8pm, and September 20 at 7pm.