"Each audience member was viewing this Antigone at a time when power in the wrong hands was a hot topic of conversation, and the show felt all the more pertinent for it."
Actors of Dionysus (aod) have picked a very good time to stage Antigone. Written by Sophocles over 2,000 years ago, its themes remain highly relevant today – one of these being power or, indeed, abuse or misuse of it. In Antigone you watch Creon, ruler of Thebes (as played by Nicholas Cass-Beggs), knowing he is unfit for leadership – dangerous for it, in fact. It is then difficult to not draw parallels between him and the people we have governing the world today. Actually, aod make it pretty much impossible to not think about Donald Trump, directly quoting the misogynistic president’s so-called ‘locker room talk’ at one point.
Others might take note of the wealthy Creon’s scorn at the blind prophet Tiresias’ humble existence and apply it to today’s climate, in which our affluent politicians might find themselves accused of looking down upon the poorer people they claim to serve – or at the very least not caring enough about them.
In regards to power outside the world of politics, I watched this Christopher Adams adaptation of Sophocles’ play (at Didcot’s multifunctional Cornerstone) the week ugly stories were emerging in the press, concerning the victimisation of women in Hollywood at the hands of a male with substantial influence. Each audience member was viewing this Antigone at a time when power in the wrong hands was a hot topic of conversation, and the show felt all the more pertinent for it.
Much of Sophocles’ text seems to be about how people wish to be perceived by others, and how we can be so easily controlled and monitored. This Tamsin Shasha-directed piece features modern day technology, such as drones and social media-talk, to highlight these human traits. Shasha’s programme notes read, “It was important for us that the power and message of Sophocles’ original was not subsumed in sci-fi wizardry and in many ways our low-tech staging has not allowed us to get too distracted.” It is true the production does not hide behind an excessive amount of smoke and mirrors, and makes slick and efficient use of an uncomplicated yet resourceful set (designed by Helen Coyston). Plus, I don’t believe that the story’s message is lost here due to its use of modern technology. However, I do feel the absolute heartache and catastrophe of Antigone is not fully presented. Not that I blame the modernisation for this either; I think the show could remain just as it is, drones and all, but it should boast a bit more screaming, louder tears, and suicides of a more dramatic ilk: the result would be a contemporary and inventive retelling that also smacks the audience in the face with the sheer tragedy of Antigone.
See the full tour list for Actors of Dionysus' Antigone here.
Image © Alex Brenner
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