Skip to main content

Antigone

Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh
Three stars

Oxygen House theatre company may have taken a twenty year break since their last production, but the pioneering Edinburgh-based purveyors of dramatic abstraction have retained an inherent sense of style in John Mitchell's production of Sophocles' final play in his Theban trilogy. Presented in association with Acting Out Drama School at the venue where Oxygen House began their adventure in 1987, this regeneration features a largely female cast in Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald's 1938 translation.

Storm clouds seem to gather from the off amidst the blackness of a bare stage heightened by Phil Cooney's swirling soundscape. Into this step a black shirted chorus who turn their back on the action as Antigone pleads with her sister Ismene to help her bury their rebel brother Polynices against the will of Queen Creon. Creon herself is a lady not for turning, whose apparent strong and stable outlook is doomed to failure as it crumbles following the personal disaster she sets in motion.

With such a young cast led by Kat Shepherd as a fearless Antigone, the play's focus on the power of civil disobedience recalls some all too recent precedents. This becomes even more recognisable when Lucy May Wilson's initially reluctant Ismene stands in solidarity with her sibling. Creon's pig-headed absolutism, meanwhile, as played by a steely Jennifer Loney, lays bare a set of bloody consequences that leaves an entire nation scarred.

Mitchell's seven-strong onstage parade creates a militaristic spectacle that looks to be unbreakable until Antigone steps out of line. The result of this is a kind of revolutionary martyrdom in a martial reinvention of a play that shows the true value of defiance. It also marks what one hopes is the first of many more Oxygen House productions to come.

The Herald, October 5th 2017


ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …