Nt Antigone With Christopher Ecclestone
Posted 20 April 2012 - 03:11 PM
Posted 20 April 2012 - 03:37 PM
Posted 20 April 2012 - 04:57 PM
Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:30 PM
Posted 20 April 2012 - 08:50 PM
Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:35 PM
Posted 25 May 2012 - 09:17 PM
Director Polly Findlay really made it flow, people constantly on the move and moving with purpose, the sense of crisis palpable. The chorus were individuals, with characters and through lines. The leads were exceptional. Christopher Ecclestone was a perfect Creon, strong and stubborn and sneering yet every inch the ruler, dominating everyone and everything. Jodie Whittaker was a sympathetic, raging Antigone, giving as good as she got in her scenes with Creon, and Annabel Scholey was equally good as her sister, Ismene. Special praise for young Luke Newberry as Creon's son, Haemon. The fiery father and son encounter was the highlight of the show.
Lots of nice touches. Tiresias's entry was presaged with wonderfully creepy effects and the scene that followed was riveting. I am not normally a devotee of Greek tragedy but this production gripped me from the start and never let go. Highly recommended.
Posted 26 May 2012 - 10:10 PM
How astonishing that Sophocles, who only escaped the fate of Ozymandias by the skin of his teeth (a mere 7 of his 123 plays survive) can have so much to say to us 2,400 years after he died. I'm certain he has been mightily aided in his contemporary relevance by Don Taylor's prescient "version" (the word gleaned from the cast list, used instead of "translation"). Creon's policy of not burying the "terrorist" Polyneices' body, and condemning Antigone as a supporter of Polyneices' "terror" by her defying of his decree, is clearly an instance of Taylor tailoring the piece to today's headlines. But here's the thing: it works brilliantly.
And the overwhelming star of this production would be designer, Soutra Gilmour, collaborating with director, Polly Findlay, to create the modern camouflage we use to justify our own pig-headed intemperate injustices. For in her glass-walled offices and carefully positioned office desks with computers and communications equipment, in her dressing of Creon and his cronies in suits and ties, and dignified spectacles in Creon's case, she creates the calming embalming accoutrements of modern society that let us sit at those desks and decree horrendous injustices, disguised by the customs and surrounding in which they are perpetrated.
It is no coincidence that Antigone has a sack over her head in one scene, or that different people approach her to photograph her and bind her and whatnot. The system of her injustice is orderly, like a death sentence carried out by lethal injection or such like, where noone need take ultimate responsibility for what is happening. Like Barrack Obama's orderly call for the extradition of a UFO hunter with aspergers, or George Bush's untried incarceration of accused terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, the customs and systems used create the illusion that justice is somehow occurring. But in fact, it is simply injustice and pig-headed pride packaged as justice.
And that is what Christopher Eccleston's Creon is all about: a pig-headed pride in his own brand of justice, packaged as reasonable by the system even as a chorus of voices raise powerless questions and objections to his policy. In this chorus, we see the echoes of journalists and scientists and all kinds of advisors and citizens who have tried to correct our own pride in our pig-headed systems and directions. We may mumble like the chorus about global warming, for instance, but we will surely follow the course of orderly indirection that dooms our descendants as surely as Creon dooms his own family and society. There will be blood on our hands, just like there is blood on Creon's, but we won't see it coming because of the order in our lives. And in every instance, this play finds these targets and hits them.
But beyond the grand metaphor for our society today, this play is brilliantly acted. Jodie Whittaker is utterly compelling as Antigone, a woman who is a shrieking alarm bell for societal injustice, an ancient world Veronica Guerin, who brooks no weasel words and tells the truth unflinchingly. Luke Newberry is truly affecting as Haemon, Creon's son, who hopelessly tries to correct his father's path, with wisdom, compassion and tender fatalism. And Jamie Ballard is explosive as the conscience of society, Teiresias, a maimed and disfigured but powerful and raging storm of a man attempting to hold society and Creon to account. Christopher Eccleston is marvellous precisely because he does not grandstand at all. Never does he treat this work like a "Christopher Eccleston vehicle." Indeed, up until the final tragic passages, he serves Gilmour's set perfectly, working Creon's prideful injustice in the most apparently civilised and modest and reasonable office-debated and unquestionably correct way possible. When the play does lurch vengefully to it's bloody conclusion, Eccleston shows what a great actor he is. Above the Olivier are chandeliers and lights in the shape of crystal balls and chess pieces. They foretell impending doom in this play, and they foretell impending doom for us too.
5 STARS! (Review is for the fourth of six preview performances, which ran a mere 95 minutes).
Posted 26 May 2012 - 10:50 PM
Possibly the shortest curtain call I've ever seen, but the cast looked really happy with the reception.
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