Euripides + Britney Spears = Feminist Manifesto in Rachel Cusk’s “Medea”

“Why are you watching me? Do you enjoy watching me suffer?… I am all the parts of you that you disown. I take on all of the punishment you abdicate. That’s why you’re here.”

Rachel Cusk’s modern interpretation of Euripides’s classic tragedy is a lot of things—consistently compelling, politically engaged, extremely loud—but subtle it is not. While I am nothing if not a fan of tendentiously feminist literature, sociopolitical themes are much more effective when they are a little more subliminal. In Medea, characters break the fourth wall to explicitly implicate the audience in Medea’s taboo desire to murder her children not once, but twice, and the lack of delicacy dilutes the play’s worthy message. Continue reading →