Laura Irish blends her story of motherhood with that of one of literature’s despised women in Medea. Photo: Ishna Jacobs.

New play is ‘the voice of every mother’


Laura Irish was with her new-born son in a studio apartment in South Korea when she first felt the petrifying isolation that can come with motherhood.

“I had never felt so alone, with so much pressure to do a job I had no training to do and no guide book to learn,” she says.

It is an experience that permeates “Medea, the Mother” where the award-winning writer and actor leads the audience on a path of passion, honesty and ultimately violence.

Reviewers have called the play “the voice of every mother”.

The play dissects literature’s most despised woman – Medea, who infamously killed her children to spite her husband. But Laura humanises the character and asks questions about how a mother could have been taken to such a terrible decision.

She runs her own story in parallel – the audience is taken through the birth of her first child in a foreign land to a man she barely knew, and traces it through to her realisations of the similarities between Medea and herself.

“The eventual decisions we made were very different but they could have been similar,” Laura says.

Laura has just returned from a successful run of the show at the Dunedin Fringe Festival, and in Christchurch where reviewers admired her honesty in addressing an issue so often left unspoken.

“There are so many people who feel the same things I did and still do, but we keep it to ourselves … I hope this lets people voice their worries and fears.”

Laura says the show is as much for men as it is for women.

“Some of the most powerful responses have been from men who have been presented with a side to the story that they often haven’t considered.”

As one reviewer noted: “It might take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to support a mother.”

Medea is at Ghost Light Theatre, 146 Bridge St, from Thursday March 22 to Sunday 25 at 7pm. Tickets through or on the door. $13-45.