At A New West End Theatre, Sophie Okonedo Will Portray Medea.
The following year, Sophie Okonedo will play Medea in a Dominic Cooke-directed performance at the brand-new West End theatre @sohoplace.
Cooke noted that Okonedo has the “visceral power, intelligence, and fortitude to… travel to the severe regions that the character demands” and called Okonedo’s performance of Euripides’ Medea “a drama defined by the actor who portrays it.” The Oscar-nominated actor was initially sceptical of the idea when he first approached her with it due to his busy schedule. Nevertheless, he agreed to a rehearsed reading, which the director described as electrifying.
One actor, Ben Daniels, will take on the roles of all the men in the production, which will use a translation from 1946 by the American poet Robinson Jeffers. Cooke said, “Medea is fundamentally about the conflict between stereotypical masculine and female ideals of authority. The patriarchal norms of his society—conformity to duty, order, and control—have drawn Jason away from Medea. In many respects, every male character acts as an agent of these forces, trying to persuade Medea, a strong, unpredictable foreign woman, to follow the rules. I therefore pondered whether it may be effective to have one actor portray all the male characters as various manifestations of the same power.
When asked about the position, Okonedo expressed that she was “very excited and a little bit nervous,” adding that she had been pleased by @sohoplace during her tour of the facility during its construction. The first newly constructed theatre in the West End in fifty years, owned by producer Nica Burns, is a component of a £300 million neighbourhood revitalization effort led by Tottenham Court Road underground station. Burns’ nighttime performances as a young performer in the ancient outdoor theatre of Epidaurus in Greece served as the inspiration for the theater’s star concept.Cooke was drawn to the 602-seater @sohoplace’s adaptable performance space because “it didn’t feel right to put the play behind a 19th-century proscenium arch, where actors and audience are in separate rooms.” Everyone can see the audience in ancient Greek theatres, and they constitute an essential part of the play’s significance. In Medea, they are compelled to live the protagonist’s actions as she advances to the play’s devastating conclusion, becoming observers of her choices. For what we have in mind, there isn’t a better auditorium than this one.This adaptation of Euripides’ tragedy will be created by Vicki Mortimer and co-produced by Cooke and Kate Horton’s business, Fictionhouse. Good, the first play by Fictionhouse, is now playing at the Harold Pinter Theater and stars David Tennant.
At the Royal Court in 2011, Okonedo and Daniels co-starred in the play Haunted Child. Cooke has collaborated with Okonedo on a number of occasions, including on Arabian Nights at the Young Vic in 1998. Cooke directed Daniels in The Normal Heart at the National Theatre. The 10-week run of Medea kicks off with previews on February 11.