An ancient play resonates with modern issues in this passionate production from Eleventh Hour

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Venue 53)
Till August 27
1 hour

Antigone is believed to have been written by Sophocles in 441 b.c. For such an ancient play it has a very modern feel and message and that is heightened by this production.

The plot centres on the decision of Angtigone (Elsie Ireland) to defy the command of Governer Creon that her brother Polyneices’ body should remain unburied because he is a ‘traitor’, outside the city walls, to be defiled by the ravages of wild animals and birds. In deciding to bury him Antigone asserts the primacy of the law of the Gods over man. Nor does she seek to deny that she knew of the ruling on her brother when questioned. It is a classic tale of civil disobedience. It raises questions about the limits of State authority and the exercise of power without regard to either good counsel or tradition.

This production by Eleventh Hour Theatre reinforces the sense of modernity with soundclips of Blair, Cameron and George W Bush ranting against terrorism and disorder and promising uncompromising ‘robust’ or ‘tough’ action. Perhaps most telling is Bush saying “If you are not with us you are with the terrorists”. Bush and Creon both ignore the possibility of a third way or even neutrality. Everything in their world is black or white and there are no shades of grey. The company also, at times, wear terrorist (or special forces) style balaclavas. Sometimes it is difficult to know which is which!

So many questions are raised by Antigone. It is at heart though, a cautionary tale warning against arrogance and an inability to listen to others. Creon (played passionately and well by Jake Deasy) is warned by his son Haemon (Charlie Coobs) and the prophet Teiresias (Oliver Evans) amongst others that his decisions are wrong. By the time he takes heed it is just too late.

I really enjoyed this interpretation by Eleventh Hour. It’s a play performance that makes it clear that the themes of this ancient play are still important today. The lesson that a desire for conformity and order can produce chaos is not missed. As the notes to the production state:

“The implosion of his self-created police state, rife with brutality and a total disregard for civil liberties, will bring Creon to his knees, as he sees everything that the sought to protect fall apart before his very eyes. Violence, betrayal and rebellion will see the streets run red with royal blood.”

A timely production and a lesson for the wise.

Five Stars

Reviewed by Patrick Harrington

Cast and Crew

Antigone: Elsie Ireland
Ismene: Ginny Troughton
Chorus Leader: Sam Wheatley
Creon: Jake Deasy
Sentry: Max Evans
Haemon: Charlie Coombs
Teiresias: Oliverr Evans
Eurydice: Lydia Maxwell
Directors: Max Evans and Charlie Coombs
Producer: Rebecca Vines
Sound Design: Owen Crouch
Translated by David Grene


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