Jasmin Vardimon: Medusa (3 stars)

Jasmin Vardimon: Medusa

Impressive sequences of dance reign in this busy, high concept piece

There are maybe one too many snakes writhing from the head of Medusa in this sprawling adaptation of the Greek myth by Jasmin Vardimon Company. That's not to say it isn't moving and impressive; suffocating sequences of pained dance are often offset with very welcome gulps of air, as the female characters struggle to find freedom from the various men groping and oppressing them.

But there are also clunky passages of interpretative dance with overly literal props; men parading about with rubbish bins on their head, spouting crisp wrappers and food scraps as they peacock about, or a sparring pair of suited businessmen with giant stag's antlers. The piece explores the violence and misogyny of the original story where Medusa was raped by Poseidon, then turned into an ugly statue with serpents for hair. The once beautiful maiden then suffers another blow from the patriarchy, a beheading from Perseus.

In the energetic opening sequences, the female dancers are positioned and preened roughly by men, dresses are hung on them, their limbs are manipulated like floppy puppets and they are carted about the stage like rigid shop mannequins. It's the polar opposite of them swaying and bending in blissed out, hippie lines of sisterhood later, floral maxi dresses wafting in the breeze. But rather than allowing the piece to flow naturally, various messages are hammered home, through a spoken word interlude on Sartre and 'the gaze of the other', or through unsubtly surreal sketches, like the one where a woman is spray painted then pissed on, with a rope tied around her head. Shoehorning in a message about plastic pollution in the oceans in this already busy, high concept piece detracts from the skill of the dancers, who slither and ripple about one another, shedding their skins and changing forms as they go.

Seen at Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 21 Feb.


A dance work that examines the gendered historical significance of the myth of Medusa and the philosophical idea of reflection.