Don’t worry, Euripides. Sure, you come in for some gleeful skewering in “Medea’s Got Some Issues,” the witty solo show that No Rules Theatre Company and SPAIN arts & culture have brought to Capital Fringe. But this spoof, penned by Emilio Williams, also takes aim at other targets, including academia, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” the institution of the Greek chorus and the D.C. theater scene.
Channeling all this satire, in director Joshua Morgan’s production, is an energetic Lisa Hodsoll, who stalks a stage archly decorated (by set designer Cory Ryan Frank) with giant phalli and miniature Greek columns. Dressed in a gauzy black chiton, Hodsoll portrays both an exasperated version of Medea — the Euripides protagonist who killed her kids to spite her unfaithful husband—and an exasperated version of an actress playing Medea. (Chelsey Schuller designed the costumes and props.)
The former is peeved at men, especially her ex, Jason, who ditched her after she helped him steal the Golden Fleece. The latter is peeved at a theater industry that has relegated her to a black-box Fringe venue. “What do I have to do to get an actual THEATER . . . with a proscenium arch . . . one with orchestra seats?” she gripes at one point, gazing with annoyance at the Spartan setup of the Warehouse. The hilarious rant goes on to make digs at Kathleen Turner, this newspaper, several area theaters and the Helen Hayes Awards. (Spanish playwright Williams tailors his script to each production; he originally wrote the play in Spanish, and he translated it into English, the language it is performed in here.)
“Medea’s Got Some Issues” is funniest when it get most meta — when Hodsoll drenches two dolls in ketchup while chatting to the audience about how crowd-pleasing Medea’s infanticide scenes always are. Or when the actress switches characters, impersonating (fictional) scholars who pontificate about the Medea myth. (One egghead is the author, we’re told, of a bestseller titled “Lacan and the Can-Can.”) Or when she summarizes a particularly sensational section of Euripides’ play as if she were a cable news anchor.
Hodsoll’s personas exude enjoyably aggressive confidence, taking in stride theatrical self-consciousness and anachronisms (like the can of Red Bull that turns out to be hidden in a Greek column). In one of the play’s funniest sequences, Medea fumes about the American theater’s veneration of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which, of course, ends with the more or less tragic figure of Blanche DuBois being led away, apparently to a mental institution.
“What’s the tragedy in that?” the eponymous heroine of “Medea’s Got Some Issues” demands. “Excuse me: That’s not a tragedy. That’s health care!”
Wren is a freelance writer.