By the Bog of Cats, by Marina Carr

July 21, 2010 at 14:44 (Book Reviews, Highly Rated Books, Theatrical Plays) (, , , , )


Certainly a very eerie and dark play, depicting a much closer and more detailed look at the Medea story, which makes it much more personable than the original legend. Rather than a handful of heroes without discernible motives we are treated to a little backstory and some characters who are considerably more relatable than a mad queen and a quasi-divine adventurer. The death of “Medea” at the end was a bold choice…and may have been the wrong choice. Her escape in Euripides contributes to the impotence and emasculation of Jason, and in itself is a curious paradox of utter resolution and an utter lack of the same; her escape being her ultimate exit from Jason’s life and world, yet without blood to cleanse his unsatisfied retribution.

“…there’s two Hester Swanes, one that is decent and very fond of ya despite your callow treatment of me. And the other Hester, well, she could slide a knife down your face, carve ya up and not bat an eyelid.”

-By the Bog of Cats

Carthage was a much more sympathetic character than I was prepared to believe in, but his murderous backstory, delivered subtly a few acts in was both jarring and a nice tie-in to Jason’s own hidden sins. In spite of the long shadow that the original Greek casts over this play, it certainly stands alone as a serious and respectable work of literature with the recasting expertly done.

Perhaps this play rattled a little fast towards its end, but with the outcome almost a foregone conclusion this may have been just as well, and enough time was certainly given for the reader to linger on the dazzlingly iconic scenes of Hester bursting in with her wedding dress, or screaming defiance beside her burning house. A thrilling read.

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