Drake University’s 2021-2022 theatre season began with “Medea,” directed by Michael Rothmayer. The show opened on Sept. 30 and was Drake’s first production to be viewed by a live audience since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many students had raving reviews regarding the actors of the play, including lead actress Emma Tonn, Sa’Daiveon Newell, Stephanie Mayer, Grace Griffin, Ava Little and many others.
“ ‘Medea’s’ main actress was great,” sophomore Keziah Musoba said. “Loved her. I also liked that the chorus helped us get a better view of what was happening in the show. Their speaking and timing was impeccable. But I loved the King [Newell] the most. His acting was phenomenal. I was very impressed with his work. When he was on stage, I was honestly the most engaged while watching the show.”
Sophomore Sa’Daiveaon Newell played King Creon in this Greek tragedy performance. During the show, he embraces a marriage between his daughter and the character Jason, while banishing Jason’s former wife Medea and his children from the kingdom.
“I enjoyed Sa’Daiveon’s performance in the show ‘Medea,’ ” first-year Diamond Metcalfe said. “I thought he commanded the stage as soon as he entered. Additionally, his physicality and vocal inflection hit his character very well.”
Senior Emma Tonn played the lead role of Medea — a woman who seeks revenge on all who wrong her no matter who or what stands in the way.
“I really enjoyed Medea the character,” sophomore Abs Wheeler said. “She was enthralling, and I liked the themes of women’s rage.”
Although Tonn could not perform vocally for a couple of performances due to the actress experiencing laryngitis, many audience members still enjoyed her performance. Some had mixed emotions regarding the voice actors for the character and their vocal performances when voicing such a complex and powerful character.
“I felt that she was really good at presenting the character through her physicality. She had so much tension and excitement in her torso and arms that seemed to just demand the attention of the audience,” sophomore Emma Fisherman said. “I think the vocal actors could have used more inflection and emotion. But, it was also such a strange and last minute situation that I think they did a good job considering their circumstances. Overall I really liked the simplicity in Medea’s performance.”
For this performance, actors wore full-face white masks as an artistic choice by the director since Medea is a Greek play.
“I liked the use of the full face costume masks because it allowed the actors to explore physical acting in a very unique and challenging way,” sophomore Abby Rogers said.
However, there were mixed reviews on the use of white masks that covered the entirety of the actor’s faces during the show.
“Obviously, you want to be covid safe, so masks are definitely a must,” Musoba said. “But the masks they chose to put on top of those masks … made it harder for us to understand the acting that was happening and get the emotion that was happening.”
Overall, some audience members enjoyed the show.
“I do wish I could have seen their faces,” first-year Laura Breyen said. “But they still did a great job portraying their characters with their voices and body language, and I thought that was really cool.”