‘Children of Medea’ Transforms Constellation Theater

Credit: DJ Corey Photography

After months of Netflix and no Playbill, I was thrilled to “attend” live theater again, though I didn’t change seats on the couch for the Live Stream Opening Night of Children of Medea, part of Constellation Theater Company’s Season 14: Electric Impulses, at Source Theatre.

Children of Medea is a vivid one-woman show of adolescence, fantasy, and transformation, written and performed by Sue Jin Song (winner of the Best of Fringe Award when it premiered at the 2008 DC Fringe Festival). Uncertain what to expect, and more keen to support the arts than watch theater on my laptop, I was soon transported into the haunting story of Korean-American sisters Cynthia and Julianne, respectively tiptoeing and skipping into adulthood after their mother disappears without a trace.

Credit: DJ Corey Photography

Song masterfully embodies all of the characters in this tour-de-force solo performance. Seventeen-year-old Cynthia struggles to excel in school, raise her younger sister, and meet the expectations of her emotionally absent immigrant father, retreating into the surreal universe of her own psyche, where she encounters familiar figures like Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Julianne is the blithely innocent observer, still free of the weights of social mores. Presiding over it all is Medea, challenging and reframing her infamous role within Greek mythology. Song’s literarily literate script is a deft blend of mythology, literature, current events, and pop culture that collectively press the question of identity.

Constellation’s Founding Artistic Director Allison Arkell Stockman directed the play with razor-edged whimsy, filmed as a multi-camera setup, and staged as a full-fledged production. A.J. Guban’s scenic and lighting design crafted a cool and changeable blend of modern neon and natural trunks for an unearthly and dreamlike forest. Sound design by Justin Schmitz and costumes by Kendra Rai complete the scene.

Credit: DJ Corey Photography

Children of Medea goes farther than a vaccine to transport you from home, first to the theater, and then into the surreal rabbit hole of this raw and visceral coming-of-age story that balances haunting lyricism with youthful wonder. Song’s performance is superbly mutable and confident. Arkell Stockman’s production exemplifies the terrific pivot of Constellation to a new theater environment. Swap Amazon Prime for this amazing primer on adolescence and emergence, you won’t regret it.

Children of Medea is available through Video On Demand from Constellation Theatre at Source (1835 14th Street, NW Washington, DC 20009) from April 27 to May 16, 2021. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at (202) 204-7741 or onlineRunning time: 1 hour and 15 minutes, with no intermission. Advisory: Play contains adult themes. Recommended for ages 16 plus.

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