MEDUSA is an immersive show that encourages the viewer to choose their own adventure. Walking into the main hall of The Rechabite, where many a great party has been thrown, you’re transported to Goddess Athena’s club, a three-storey space transformed into a nightspot with Greek Gods in attendance.
Athena, played by Sally Clune, is a commanding club owner who effortlessly projects her presence into the entire space. She exudes that type of glamour that is morally indifferent to the outside world whom she allures with her sultry charm. Wherever she stood, her presence could be felt. Her business partner Poseidon, Tate Bennett, is a womaniser that you love to hate. His demeanour resembled the hunger of a man on the prowl, watching his prey and enjoying the moments she suffered. Every time I looked at him, his face elicited varying levels of repulsion. His cunning and sharp manner was complemented by the dark blazer he wore which shimmered with blue and purple hues when it caught the light. His pet princess, Andromeda, Ella Jones, was equal parts vulnerable and empowered, executing both simultaneously with a mild intensity that matched the character’s story arc.
Samuel Addison as Perseus in MEDUSA. Photography by John Congear.
When Perseus enters the club, he reveals Samuel Addison’s multiple talents. His stand-up comedy had me laughing at a golden shower joke and he navigated the stage, with unplanned audience placement, effortlessly. Poseidon, on the other hand, transported around the stage in a different way. Flicking his hands to move people out of the space as if he owned it. The pentad worked effortlessly together, with no one stealing anyone else’s thunder. Their movement throughout the crowd was enabled by the ensemble, gently setting the scene and ushering audience members to enable passages for the leads if required.
Lauren Beeton as Medusa also exhibits a multitude of talents as both an actor and dancer. In scenes where she was on the elevated stage, her presence made it impossible to not pay attention. I didn’t find myself looking at other actors’ reactions or the scenes unravelling in other spaces, my eyes were glued to Lauren.
Teresa Izzard’s direction resulted in perfect pacing, with movements on the lowest level feeling like they shifted the air even on the higher levels. The fighting scenes had a measured intensity to them, as did the cutaway scenes where the gods would cease the party sounds to begin a monologue. It felt like time slowed down in these moments to gently pull the audience into whatever was happening in the story.
Lauren Beeton as Medusa and Samuel Addison as Perseus in MEDUSA. Photography by John Congear.
Lighting Designer and Rigger, Christian Lovelady didn’t skip a beat; particularly in an exceptional moment during a scene which prompted a content warning. Shadows were cast on the sheer dressing room curtains creating a harsh image of the happenings. Silks added beautiful details to the stage when they were draped to the sides ready for an impeding performance, however their use fell short for me. The music’s epic crescendos had me bracing for grand falls on the silks which didn’t happen, creating a slight mismatch between the choreography and the sound design. If you treat the silks not as a performance but rather as a prop to enhance the setting, then it’s easier to appreciate it.
Bec Price nailed the sound design and composition, perfectly setting the scene of Goddess Athena’s club. Entering the space, the commercial songs had the crowd moving and excited for the commencement of the show. As soon as the show started, the stripped back new jungle sounds subtly set the scene without people even realising. I tried to find a track ID for the catchy song playing at the end, then realised it sounded so familiar as it had the distinctive flavour of Bec’s production. (Side note, look up PROJECT BEXX if you want to hear well produced pop music. This woman is a star.)
Lauren Beeton as Medusa in MEDUSA. Photography by John Congear.
The great thing about immersive theatre is that you’re free to move around wherever you like. At first, the audience was clearly uncertain about what to expect, wondering where to stand across the ample space with all floors open. I enjoyed viewing a dramatic scene unfold in my vicinity, then watching the audience decide who to follow. “I don’t want to follow Poseidon, he’s a jerk” someone said as they followed Athena. Not having to sit still during a performance and being able to follow the whim of your impulsive choices is an ADHDream. I overheard some audience members sharing where the best vantage point was, then we were immediately met by a scene that had us tilting our necks up. There was no prime position, and regardless of where you were, the story could be felt throughout the entire space. When audiences are free to move around, intense scenes cause people to stop moving and the chill in the still air hits differently.
I’ve never seen the full three storeys of The Rechabite Hall so brilliantly used for a single performance. I suggest you take advantage of the chance to dress to impress the Gods in Athena’s club while you can.
MEDUSA is presented by Feet First Collective and is on now until August 6 at The Rechabite.