With perhaps the earliest known classic to get the prequel treatment, Sport for Jove have done it again.
The highly imaginative theatre troupe which only months ago blended Shakepeare’s The Taming of the Shrew with a comparatively modern aesthetic to better relate the story have vibrantly brought Sophocles heart-rending Antigone to life.
Staged in Sydney’s Seymour Centre and set amidst a largely nondescript, distinctly recent post-conflict zone, the crumbling bricks ensconcing the stage and littered, seemingly once formidable vestiges do more to instantly relay the suffering and ominousness of the cataclysmic events past than the text’s intermittent, cutting fulminations.
With several strong cast members, there’s really no match for Andrea Demetriades in the title role and William Zappa as Creon, dexterously commanding each of their roles singularly in several emotive scenes and playing off each other to profound effect at the times they meet.
A moderate updating of the story, language and interactions between characters by the Company as with previous productions works markedly well, as does the decision to occasionally deliver a few of the more emotive lines in Greek. Some minor additions of what in a more loyal adaptation would appear blatantly anachronistic actually renders the characters more identifiable in parts and leads to some of the few, and welcome moments of levity and even laughter in the production.
A very powerful play dutifully realised, much of the emotional impact actually rests in the first half despite some of the more consequential events occurring in the latter, which, as does the original text, rely quite heavily on exposition. Abandoning the momentum evidenced so vividly early on, the iconically tragic ending in the hands of the adept performers still makes its impact felt.
Boasting a few very quick scene changes between cues and agile character movement to upend or commence a sequence, the considered staging and talented leads went a long way to making this production a winner.
Antigone is currently playing at Sydney’s Seymour Centre