ANTIGONE adapted Roy Williams.
Nottingham Lakeside Arts
Tkts 0115 846 7777 www.lakesidearts.org.uk
Touring Details: www.pilot-theatre.com.
Runs: 1h 40m: no interval.
Review: Alan Geary: 13th October 2014.
Sophocles would have been better. Otherwise not bad.
This is Antigone but not as we know it. Adapter Roy Williams has taken the basic plot and characters and given them a contemporary black urban setting, “Downtown Thebes” comes complete with Black British – not American – street argot and baseball caps turned round the wrong way.
Since the original is a classic, by definition it’s timeless and placeless: it’s already “relevant” and “meaningful”. It doesn’t need adapting. And anyway, since this isn’t a completely new play, Williams ends up with troublesome inconsistencies: Ancient Greece keeps intruding.
Is Creo (the Creon figure) a club owning gang boss or is he a king? He and the play can’t make up their minds. And why are his street-tough underlings chuntering on about the gods all through the play? You also have to wonder why the police don’t show up.
Despite these considerations however, the evening turns out to be better than it sounds.
A starkly metallic set, clanking and threatening, is easily adaptable; a commercial wheelie bin has only to be turned round to become a seat in Creo’s night spot. The seamless, ever-present background sound is often loud, urgent and pulsating, and back projection is effective.
Mark Monero’s Creo is the performance of the evening: with his voice, face and body movement, Monero is frightening. Whether he’s swaggering about in leather, or wearing a sharp three-piece suit, Creo is made to come over as the tyrannical hard nut; that is, until the last scene, when his fortunes have turned full circle.
Antigone (Tig) is also done especially well by Savannah Gordon-Liburd, as are Eamon (Gambar Cole), Soldier 3 (Sean Sagar), and Soldier 1/Tyrese (Oliver Wilson).
The visual impact at the finish, when the lovers meet their inevitable fate, is powerful. What with that, and the physically expressed remorse of Creo, you can’t help being reminded of Romeo and Juliet.
Directed by Marcus Romer, Antigone is a definite improvement on his Romeo and Juliet itself and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, the last two Pilot Theatre productions seen in Nottingham. But you still miss Sophocles.
Eunice: Doreen Blackstock.
Eamon: Gamba Cole.
Antigone: Savannah Gordon-Liburd.
Boy/Guard/ASM: Luke James.
Creo: Mark Monero.
Soldier 3/Sentry: Sean Sagar.
Esme: Frieda Thiel.
Soldier 2: Lloyd Thomas.
Soldier 1/Tyrese: Oliver Wilson.
Director: Marcus Romer.
Designer: Joanna Scotcher.
Lighting Designer: Alexandra Stafford.
Sound Designer: Sandy Nuttgens.