Antigone Alone

The story of Antigone comes from three surviving plays written by Sophocles in the 5th century BC. It is considered important for a number of reasons, the key one perhaps that it addresses how state power and laws are often at loggerheads with individual morality and ethics. Antigone has been the focus of attention for a number of writers and thinkers, and now a new one-woman play Antigone Alone written by Michael McEvoy. This performance was directed by Jennifer McEvoy and performed by Joanna Lucas.

She is stubborn, difficult and uncompromising. It runs in the family.

Brothers Eteocles and Polynices have killed one another for the kingship of Thebes. The new king, their uncle Creon, decrees that Eteocles is a hero to be buried with full military honours while Polynices, as a traitor, should be left outside the city to rot. Antigone is determined to bury her brother with proper religious rites so that he can enter the underworld. She disobeys the law of the state knowing that the penalty is death.

This production picks up the action with Antigone holed up in a cave where she has been taken, on the order of Creon, and left to die. Alone, Antigone runs through her family’s story (note: this family put the dys in dysfunctional) switching characters as she goes; she is alternatively furious, indignant, nostalgic and funny. She is, it seems, trying to make sense of it all and work out how much of her current situation was inevitable or down to her own doing – and whether she can control her future, limited that it is.

Michael McEvoy’s writing is fluid, coherent and engaging; the play is both well-constructed and well-paced. Antigone is portrayed strongly: she does not indulge in self-pity nor seeks to blame anyone else for her current situation. She is stubborn, difficult and uncompromising. It runs in the family.

The set was stark, bare apart from a large wooden chest, and dimly lit. Joanna Lucas as Antigone was unadorned too, dressed in a simple Greek style ivory dress and open, flat sandals. Lucas gave a sterling performance, switching seamlessly to other characters, commanding and moving around the stage expertly. At times, perhaps, the delivery was slightly rushed, a little too frantically wide-eyed and breathless; she was best when defiant, standing up to Creon, making her case.

There was a theme song for the production, Ashes to Ashes composed and performed by Haifa Kayali, but unfortunately this got rather lost at the end when the audience was leaving.

However, the production was fully engaging, and is recommended.

Reviews by Jonna Brett

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The Blurb

Creon, King of Thebes, has decreed that Polynices’ body must lie, unburied, where he fell in battle. The penalty for disobeying is death. His niece has defied the law and buried her brother’s body. What made her do it? Will Creon rescind his decree? This gripping new solo play presents Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, as a defiant upholder of morality over political expediency, and of human rights over the demands of the state. Antigone is played by Joanna Lucas. Playwright Michael McEvoy’s solo shows on Van Gogh, Orwell, Machiavelli, Dickens, and Shakespeare have been seen around the world.