Reviewed by Aldo Longobardi
Edwin Kemp Attrill’s direction of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone is symbolic, contemporary, expressionistic, and purposely challenging, making Sophocles’ ancient trouble-maker a heroine for our time.
Attrill’s choice to confine the action to the apron of the stage, traps his heroine in her predicament. A towering column, iconic of the text’s ancient Greek heritage, reflects the imposing moral and political forces at play, while dividing the space, in the way each character is divided between obligation and will.
Rory Chenoweth’s eerie underscore and Stephen Deane’s lighting become increasingly Expressionistic, as the tension between Antigone and Creon (Michael Baldwin) climaxes. At one point, the screeching soundscape uncomfortably overpowers the acting, alienating the audience from Creon’s authoritative bellowing and allowing us to momentarily experience the noise in Antigone’s conflicted mind.
Sara Lange grows increasingly defiant as Antigone, as her initial naïve will to dignify her brother’s death becomes her rebellious uprising against authority. This authority is masterfully personified in Baldwin’s portrayal of Creon, equally torn between his kingly duties and empathy for his family. Rosemary Jackson is captivating as the largely silent Eurydice, proving that strength comes from action rather than words; a lesson Creon learned too late.
Nicole Rutty is assertive and seductive as the narrating Chorus. Karen Burns brings sincerity to the more delicate Ismene. Tom Cornwall’s Haemon depicts the innocence of those who suffer the consequences of the actions of others, however he is less convincing in his pleading for Creon’s mercy. Lesley Reed, Adrian Skewes, and Tony Sampson as the nurse and guards respectively provide comic relief while also portraying the burden of their own responsibilities.
This is a stunning production by the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild. Attrill stylistically draws out the meta-theatrical nature of the play while reinforcing the warnings about both the rejection and acceptance of authority.