by Roy Williams.
Pilot Theatre Tour to 29 November 2014.
then Theatre Royal Stratford East Gerry Raffles Square E15 1BN 19 February-14 March 2015.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm no performance 24 Feb Mat Wed 2pm Sat 3pm.
TICKETS: 020 8534 0310
Runs 1hr 40min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 4 November at Watford Palace Theatre.
More likely to have Sophocles sitting-up, rather than turning, in his grave.
A trio of suitable partners lie behind Roy Williams’ reinvention of Sophocles’ ancient Greek Tragedy. Marcus Romer’s Pilot Theatre Vompany has, from its start, aimed for high-energy work, presenting complex material so as to grab teenage and young adult attention. Working alongside them on this new version have been Derby Theatre, – which has been showing quite an interest recently in ancient Greek stories, and the Theatre Royal Stratford East with its pulsating urban productions, with high-profile work for Black audiences an important ingredient in its work.
This Antigone marries all three of those. Its energetic opening scenes belt-out energy, as Antigone is discovered defying her uncle’s law and burying the body of her conveniently disgraced brother, all played against the clashing mesh of protective fences in Joanna Scotcher’s set, which uses the padded seats of a smart drinking club, to offset the implied urban desolation.
While Williams’ version adapts freely, developing aspects of the story, as with the snobbery of King Creon’s wife Eunice, the dominant impression is of urban gangland. Mark Momero’s Creo knows he has to stay in command if he’s to stay on top – this, more than preventing civic civil war, is the reason he creates glory and shame for the dead brothers.
It’s in this dark land – the back of the stage is shut-off by crashing mesh gates, creating both a prison and dividing people from each other – Savannah Gordon-Liburd’s Antigone (“Tig” to those who know her) creates her alternative values, beneath a similarly loud, assertive style. Nobody’s going to stop this girl speaking her mind.
Overall, Williams seems happiest with the threat and humour of king Creo and his soldiers; the writing has a freedom here which contrasts the slightly forced emotional expression that can affect the women. Despite which, the play fills-in the relationship between Antigone and her boyfriend Eamon (Creo’s son), in a long and finely-expressed idyll, away from the city, before – in a variation on Sophocles that seems natural in the modern setting – their final lovers’ leap.
This lively re-working respects both Sophocles and the new audiences it is evidently attracting.
Eunice: Doreen Blackstock.
Eamon: Gamba Cole.
Antigone: Savannah Gordon-Liburd.
Boy/Guard: Luke James.
Creo: Mark Momero.
Soldier 3/Sentry: Sean Sagar.
Esme: Frieda Thiel.
Soldier 2: Lloyd Thomas.
Soldier 1/Tyrese: Oliver Wilson.
Director: Marcus Romer.
Designer: Joanna Scotcher
Lighting: Alexandra Stafford.
Sound: Sandy Nuttgens.
Fight director: Liam Evans Ford.
4-8 Nov 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Watford Palace Theatre 01923 225671 www.watfordpalacetheaetre.co.uk
11-15 Nov 7.30pm Mat Wed 1.30pm Gulbenkian Theatre Canterbury 01227 769075 www.thegulbenkian.co.uk
18-22 Nov 7.30pm Mat Wed 1pm; Sat 2.30pm Theatre Royal Winchester 01962 840440 www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk
26-29 Nov 7.30pm Northcott Theatre Exeter 01392 493493 www.exeternorthcott.co.uk