Antigone Now

Part of the American High School Festival, Antigone Now is nothing if not endearing in its attempts to impress. Travelling all the way from Michigan to perform at their age is an achievement in itself. Unfortunately, the standards of this high school production are not enough to earn them a positive recommendation this time around.

Some scenes fare better than others but, as a whole, you don’t need this Antigone now.

Antigone Now is a modern reworking of Sophocles’ Antigone by Melissa Cooper, generally following the lines of the original story. Antigone buries her brother Polynices against her uncle Creon’s orders, following the laws of the gods rather than the laws of men, and thus we are left with the famous classical dilemma. The script itself is nothing to write home about; fairly bland dialogue along with a slightly awkward attempt to Christianise everything with references to ‘God’. “Hosannah!” cries one cast member eagerly, before later praying to Dionysius. It’s a little jarring, but these are quibbles in comparison to larger problems.

Bluntly put, the acting ability of the cast varies greatly as it always will with actors just picked from a limited pool at the same high school. It is Drew Pype as Creon who shines from them all, giving a good stab at mastering the characterisation of a man tormented by insecurity, family loyalty and his own personal sense of duty. Julia Fertel’s Antigone has glimpses of promise, but is too focused on shouting and hand gestures to get much more from the character. The rest suffer from more basic problems – projection, clarity, a lack of variation in delivery occasionally bordering on monotony. Displays of anger, sadness and happiness are over-demonstrated rather than actually connected with or genuinely felt. Anger seems to mean that you have an angry face, or shout. Sadness means that you sob into your hands. Happiness means running away from your sister’s grave when you are distracted by a digger and the sound of hope. Undoubtedly the actors will greatly develop in years to come, but for now they fall flat.

The use of projection isn’t bad and the lighting has quite a good effect when the cast are standing in it. Some scenes fare better than others but, as a whole, you don’t need this Antigone now.

Reviews by James Beagon

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The Blurb

A powerful, modern adaptation of Sophocles' Antigone that captures the themes of free will and law versus justice through beautifully written modern prose. Set in a bombed-out city-which unfortunately could be any city- suffering the after effects of war, Melissa Cooper shows how one young woman, Antigone, is willing to die rather than surrender her humanity and free will. Defying her uncle Creon's decree that no one is to touch the body of Polynices, Antigone boldly personifies justice over law by giving him a proper burial. Her rebellion forces the other citizens to question blind obedience.