The Medusa Play (a no-spoiler review)

The Shoebox Theatre Collective

Location: Venice Island Performing Arts Center (in Manayunk)

Tickets: 15$

Remaining Dates: Nov. 21, 22, 23 7:30PM

Written by Ang Bey

Directed by Ang Bey and Ryan Rebel

Please go see this show. 

As a fresh face in the industry, I was not ready for this frank dialogue about intersectionality in theatre. But it needs to be had. We want so badly to be diverse and to create diverse stories, but we don’t want to listen to the voices that make them. Ang Bey has done a wonderful job calling out the double standards through the story of Meddie, and her journey creating a devised piece about the Greek Medusa Myth. 

Now I took Latin in highschool, which meant I learned about Greek Myth, and never had I questioned the whiteness of its stories. Indeed other people of color existed back then, so when Athena, the leader of the divising group proposes a feminist take on Medusa, Carly is quick to point out the contradictions in “realistically” casting the greek myth. Athena wants to change parts of the story to reflect a different side of Medusa, but also wants to keep her white. Carly challenges this, remarking if they played the show “realistically” they would be playing slaves. This is just one of the remarkable discussions held in the show. Other conversations detail interracial relationships, the concept of “being black enough” and so much more. 

The cast is extraordinarily talented. Terriny Morrison plays Meddie as complex of a character as Ang has written. Struggling between her own sense of identity as both a black woman and a performer. WIlliam Morrison as Dion and Briyana D Clarel as Carly make for a wonderful pair both separately and together. William is able to balance Briyana’s firey character, and pushes them past the “funny best friend who holds back the serious character” The motivations of Carly are not empty but reflect the frustrations of a person who has been pushed back at every turn, when the only thing they are trying to do is make the world better..Taylor Cawley as Athena was both a wonderful satire of a typical divised theatre performer, and a close up look at the politics of a “white feminist.” whose goals are to push forward the narrative of women, but usually just white women, without examining the intersectionality of race. And rounding out the cast is Bryce as Percy. I have to give credit to Ang for writing a nuanced white character who clearly has deep seated issues of racism. While he cares and loves Meddie, he comes from an angle of wanting to love her without fully wanting to see her and her experiences. Bryce does a wonderful job portraying not just the loving side of Percy, but also the blatant ignorant side of a white ally, showing how easy well meaning intentions can become more selfish without constant checks. 

The sets by Ezra J All-Dow are inventive and, without spoiling, require covering a wide arrange of spaces. Each feel stylistically different and vibrant. I also have to shout out Zoe Nebraska Feldman for their video work which was a really interesting integration. And of course Jo Vito Ramirez on props who made 4 puppets from scratch and a rigging system that Taylor manages throughout the show. The puppets are incredible, and as someone who watched Jo make them, know that they are the product of hard work and a love for the craft. 

Again. Please see this show. PLEASE SEE THE SHOW. The shoebox theatre collective is doing shows that are asking and answering important questions in the world of not just philadelphia theatre, but all of theatre. Do not miss this brilliant show. 

Full Spoiler filled review to follow after the show closes. 

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