Euripides in a double-wide

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Don’t expect to see the same ol’ classic Greek rendering of Euripides’ tragedy “Medea” at the Nicu Spoon Theater in Manhattan.

Although inspired by the ancient story, “Maddy: A Modern Day Medea,” written and directed by Will Le Vasseur, is relayed in an entirely different time and setting altogether — a present-day trailer park. Think “Xanadu” meets “The American Trailer Park Musical,” but without the music. And, of course, the subject matter isn’t supposed to be humorous (although this production is farcical of the myth).

In this version, produced by the Astoria-based Redd Tale Theatre Company, Medea — or Maddy, as she is called in today’s world — is an elemental turned human for reasons of love. Unfortunately for her, life didn’t go as planned. She is faced with the option of returning to her original being and doesn’t know what to do. If she makes the decision to return to the immortal world, to restore order, her lover and children must also cease to exist. But if she stays human, she will have to see her unfaithful lover married to another woman and her children taken from her.

“The audience can expect to be surprised by the ending, and come away with good conversation afterwards,” said actress Lynn Kenny, who plays the title character. Kenny moved to Astoria last year from Virginia Beach and this is her first New York play.

James Stewart is the co-director of the Redd Tale Theatre Company and also has a part in “Maddy,” as Alan. He describes the character as a father figure who helps Maddy with her decision.

“This show has been a terrific experience and we are working with great people,” he said. “There is a collaborative feel. We let actors bring their own things to the table.”

The supporting cast members include Blaine Pennington as Billy-Jay, Heather Shields as Flo, Ben Strothmann as Cleetus and Rainbow Dickerson as Edna.

The production was written and directed by Will Le Vasseur, who is also the founder of the Redd Tale Theatre Company. Redd Tale has done other plays over the past six years, but this show marks the company’s first original work.

The idea for this piece stemmed from an all-male version of “Medea” that Le Vasseur saw when he was in college. Surprisingly, he said, the story was still told from a feminist perspective. He decided it was time to write a new version and give “Medea” a different voice.

“I wanted to make it a pro-humanist piece rather than a pro-feminist piece,” Le Vasseur said.He has a residency with the Nicu Spoon Theater in Midtown and said he was grateful for the permission to use the space. The company is also thankful to ReBuilders Source Warehouse for the set materials, Home Depot for free coupons to use for supplies and to AriZona and F & V Distribution for their donations of cases of Diet Lemon Iced Tea and Vapor Water as props for the show, he said.

LeVasseur is thrilled to be directing a play that he has written. “It’s so fortunate to be able to talk directly to the actors and explain my reasoning behind the creative process,” he said. “It’s an awesome genesis and completely malleable.”

In addition to writing and directing, Le Vasseur is also an actor. He is the star of “The Swan Song” by Anton Chekov, which Redd Tale is staging along with “Maddy” as a second act to their evening of theater. The 30-minute play is performed almost in the dark, lit only with a few candles. The audience senses that they are truly inside an old, dreary theater, reliving the history of an elderly actor who is past his prime, with reminiscences both humorous and wistful.

“Maddy: A Modern Day Medea” and “The Swan Song” both derive from the genre of classical theater, but that is their only obvious connection. The goal of the The Redd Tale Theatre Company is to make each one of these stories uniquely relevant in today’s society and to hopefully convey new meaning to the audience.

If You Go

“Maddy: A Modern Day Medea” and “The Swan Song”

When: Aug. 7-29; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Nicu Spoon Theater, 38 W. 38th St., Manhattan

Cost: $12-$15

Contact: 212-868-4444

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Posted 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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