Thu 24th – Sat 26th January 2013


Anna Sophie Hogarth

at 10:18 on 25th Jan 2013



Jean Anouilh’s modern retelling of Euripides’ ‘Antigone’ is an epic tragedy from beginning to end; this play is full of great emotions, drama and long imploring speeches. However, Aidan’s College Theatre Company, who are performing it from the 24th -26th January at the Assembly Rooms have taken a much more muted approach to the play which although at times a little dry, is overall a very realistic retelling of the tragedy and one which is sensitive to the situation and character of the normally vilified Creon.

Izzie Price’s portrayal of Antigone, who is determined to see her disgraced brother Polynices receive a proper burial, does not feature the wild, erratic performance that Antigone often garners. However, her quietly resilience is impressive on stage. She first appears to us almost ghost-like by candlelight and retains this feature for the rest of the play which perfectly complements the accusations set against her that she is enjoying the spectacle and drama she is making and echoes her willingness to die. Her more level headed sister, Ismene, played by Hebe Beardsall, is good in the first half, however, there is no obvious change to her character and nature in the second half when she agrees to die and fight with Antigone, which undermines the seriousness of her change of heart.

Joe Burke as Creon commands power without vicious and obvious displays of anger and violence which makes his character and his whole situation as a king battling with politics and emotions realistic and understandable. The whole set up of his scenes with Antigone – a bare stage apart from two chairs, a table and a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling – leave the audience to concentrate simply on the human emotions we see in front of us and I have to say it is Creon this play pushes you to sympathise with as he desperately remonstrates with his niece Antigone, whose once noble quest begins to seem rather indulgent and petulant. Burke really inhabits his character and his performance is highly commendable.

The characters of the Nurse, played by Philippa Mosley and ‘Jonas,’ the Guard played by Jonny Lock, were good; the Nurse was everything you would expect as a fussing, bumbling matron of Antigone and Ismene, and the dynamic of the charges having outgrown their nurse was amusing to watch. Jonas and his two colleagues played by Max Ratcliffe and Jess Groocock were apt at portraying the rather dim guards who frustrate Creon so much yet perhaps first night nerves were stopping them from extending their characterization even further; they should not be afraid to find the humorous potential in a tragedy.

The chorus is played by two spirits, David Myers and Elizabeth Gray who speak to us by eerie candlelight and flit around the stage, taunting the characters around them. Their stage make-up, by Charly Burnell, and costumes are incredible, and their presence is disquieting for the audience however, they too should seek to extend their physicality and seek to ‘spook’ the audience and the characters more.

Director Justin Murray’s vision of “life as a pack of cards; all we can do is play the hand we’re dealt” makes a really good motif for the play, and gave particularly good scope and potential for the technical team, headed by Zenia Selby. Visually and artistically this production is a huge success. With a red and monochromatic colour scheme which is consistent throughout, the play has a constant theme and visual identity which is strong. The lighting is successful at emphasising the dark, foreboding mood of the play yet it needs to be slightly stronger in parts as the subtlety of the acting means it is imperative that we see the actors facial expressions clearly.

Overall, the play is a refreshing retelling of Antigone, and it is bold and impressive that the director and cast manage to garner support for Creon in this production. The acting is generally strong and it is worth going to see the production for the visual feast and the performance of Joe Burke.


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