Medusa Undone argues that even gorgons suffer from rape culture | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Medusa Undone argues that even gorgons suffer from rape culture

Otherworld retells the old myth from a feminist perspective.

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Greek myths are essentially ancient soap operas, and such is the case with Medusa Undone, which reexamines the origin of the well-known monster but told through a modern feminist lens. Here the gods Athena and Poseidon are cast as monsters and Medusa is a timid sea nymph who just wants to serve Athena and is afraid of incurring the wrath of the gods. As Medusa leaves her terrible family life (her sisters are Gorgons, after all) and follows her spiritual passion to become a priestess, she finds herself caught betwixt Athena and Poseidon in a classic love triangle, which ends quite badly for her (not to mention leaving her with one terrible hairdo).

Writer Bella Poynton frames the story as a critique of rape culture and presents Medusa as a victim, too trusting of Poseidon's friendship to maintain agency over her decisions in the face of his aggressive behavior. Athena, played with divine strength by Jessica Goforth, lashes out at Medusa after she's assaulted by Poseidon, exemplifying the victim-blaming all too familiar these days. Although her acting chops are not quite on par with the rest of director Tiffany Keane Schaefer's ensemble, Mary-Kate Arnold's Medusa is the sort of vital feminist character not seen enough onstage. Michael Jay Bullaro's Poseidon perfectly embodies the self-serving arrogance of an abuser who imagines himself sensitive.

The god-human relationship here is a metaphor for celebrity idolatry and the lack of consequence so many with power have maintained, as well as the dangers of living for others versus ourselves. With timely, ambitious productions, Otherworld Theatre is definitely one to watch.   v

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