Antigone (Riverside Studios) 22 April

****

A Thursday matinee of Antigone started unpromisingly: Antigione was running backwards and forwards and throwing stones at birds represented by offstage squawkings, while the Greek schoolkids behind me were chattering noisily.  Eurgh, I thought to myself, Antigone as a family dispute or, equally mistaken, Antigone as Sophie Scholl.

But things improved:  the play began to bite about the famous nothing so wonderful as man chorus, and the confrontations between Antigone and Creon came off well, each as adamantine as the other in the true Sophoclean fashion.  George Siena’s depiction of Creon in the guise of a  giant black crow was striking and rather overshadowed the Antigone of Lisa Stuart, which doesn’t often happen.  The physical theatre conventions also began to exert a pull, with Creon being reduced to a helplessly crawling  thing by the rushing vatic force of the accusatory speech by Tiresias (Johan Buckingham).

Some attempts at singing in Modern Greek met with a mixed reception from the Greek schoolkids behind me–Anne Malone (Musician) was allowed to escape unscathed, while the contribution from one of the three chorus members (Chris Gunter, I think) was adjudged terribly funny.  Actually those children weren’t bad critics–they stayed silent during the parts I really wanted to hear…

So at the end the curse of naturalism had been averted and while the conventions of physical theatre are not would I have chosen to keep it away they were pretty effective.  I suppose everyone went home convinced that Sophocles had penned a ringing justification of individual liberty, but that’s a modern audience for you…

Media partners

The programme contained a copy of a fax to the producer, Anastasia Revi, from the Greek Government–it took me a very long time to notice that there was a translation on the other side.  The Riverside online booking page has a link to the Oxford Classics Outreach site, while the play is also promoted on euGreeka (devoted to Greek events in London and elsewhere–looked jolly interesting to me).

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