Antigone, Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Lung Ha's Theatre Company with NYOS Futures
Adrian Osmond (writer), Maria Oller (director), Kenneth Dempster (composer), Becky Minto (set designer), Andrew MacCall (sound designer) Simon Wilkinson (lighting designer)
Nicola Tuxworth (Antigone), Sean Hay (Creon), Teri Robb (Ismene), Douglas Briglam (Haemon), Katrina Merrilees (Hypatia), Kirsty Hamilton (Euthalia)
Running time

‘Antigone’ continues to fascinate; from Jean Anouilh’s version of over half a century ago, through Tom Paulin’s Belfast-accented reworking as ‘The Riot Act’ and Gerry Mulgrew’s Communicado production, ironically drenched in Mediterranean sunlight, writers and theatre companies continue to be drawn to the story of one person’s stubborn belief in her own view of what is right.

Adrian Desmond’s interpretation is given a thorough road testing by Lung Ha’s theatre company, working in close collaboration with National Youth Orchestra of Scotland’s Futures (members embarking on professional careers).

The production itself manages to encompass both enough of the bare bones of Sophocles’ Theban cycle and its timeless concerns to achieve a genuinely satisfying hour spent in the theatre.

Although professional Sean Hay plays Creon, more regular members of Lung Ha’s make up the chorus and play in a number of other roles.  The chorus, always an essential element of all classical Greek drama work physically and vocally to adorn (in the best sense) the text. Nicola Tuxworth’s articulate Antigone treads a delicate line; one moment the precocious minx any uncle might want to slap, the next the fully-grown woman any sensible man pays heed to.

Her passionately argued case presents the perfect foil to Hay’s Creon, caught between self-serving political pragmatism and a dawning sense of the dangerous legacy his posturing will lead to. Teri Robb brings to Ismene a convincing sisterly tenderness, not always apparent in this difficult and sometimes thankless role.

What enhances the entire production, however, is Kenneth Dempster’s score, played to pitch-perfection by members of NYOS Futures. Floating lyrically above yet always alongside the action, it forms a perfect support to both the physical action and spoken passages of the play.

Lung Ha’s, by nature of its inclusivity, is perhaps the perfect company to perform a play in which the concept of the Greek polis, the essential building block of Greek society, is pitched against the wishes of the individual. What makes Antigone such a shocking character to Sophocles’ contemporaries is what makes her so sympathetic to ourselves. That Lung Ha’s achieve so much in one hour on the stage is a tribute to their concerted and co-ordinated efforts and is our great good fortune.

Show times 15 & 17 March (returns only)