BWW Review: Now & Then Creative Company Presents Sophocles' ANTIGONE
If Now & Then Creative Company's production of Sophocles' ANTIGONE (using Ian Johnston's translation) were anything less than a potent and absorbing portrayal of the existential struggle between devotion to the will of the gods and the dictates of the state, I would still encourage attendance if only to embrace the richness of the text.
Like the great Greek classicists of his time (5th Century BC), the author of the Theban Plays (OEDIPUS REX, OEDIPUS AT COLONUS, ANTIGONE) not only weaves an irony-laden tale of tragic consequence but also imbues it with sage words of counsel regarding principles of governance, loyalty, and obedience that resonate millennia after. Against the forces of nature or the gods of mythology, Sophocles holds mere mortals, even if they are kings, powerless. Thus, tragedy in works of this genre befalls those who challenge the fates.
The good news is that theatre goers do not need to rely solely on the historic appeal of the play and its durability as a classic to attend Now & Then's staging. The dynamic and forceful performances of the six actresses, directed by Cody Goulder, offer more than enough reason to take in this gem.
Antigone (Erika Lee Garcia), the daughter of the now deceased Oedipus, the king of Thebes, defies the command of his successor and her uncle Creon (Ivy Worsham) to withhold the honor of a burial to her brother Polyneices. The punishment for what the king has deemed as an act of betrayal is in marked contrast to the honors accorded to her other brother, Eteocles. (The brothers died at each other's hands.) Despite the warnings of her sister Ismene (Wednesday Estes), Antigone is resolute to accord her brother the honors that the gods themselves would prescribe. She exemplifies one who "has no sense of compromise in times of trouble."
As the contest of wills ensues, the dominos of tragedy fall as Creon's wife Eurydice (Tess Jenkins) and son Haemon (Alexandra Utpadel), affianced to Antigone, become victims of hybris and the arrogance of power.
Throughout the drama, three Choruses (Estes, Utpadel, and Cheyanne Ballou) interject with lines of majestic poetry that accentuate the play's overarching themes.
Above all, there are the bold and compelling exchanges throughout this work that pit faith and power against each other and suggest the natural order of hierarchies. Witness Creon's alarming exchange with Haemon about filial duty, the boundaries of mercy, and the subordinate role of women ~ and Haemon's cautious rebuttals. Consider Antigone's defiance of Creon's exhortations.
Finally, and perhaps of most immediate relevance to our times, think about Creon's declaration regarding the ruler and governance: "It's impossible to really know a man, to know his soul, his mind and will, before one witnesses his skill in governing and making laws. For me, a man who rules the entire state and does not take the best advice there is, but through fear keeps his mouth forever shut, such a man is the very worst of men - and always will be."
So much more to be contemplated in this remarkably powerful tragedy!
With visibly limited resources other than the talents of the six actresses who breathe fire into this work and the imaginative use of apparitions and sound, Cody Goulder has demonstrated his depth and acuity as a director. His interpretation, which places the conflict outside the architecture of Greek society and takes some liberties with the script, fully imbues the production with a perfect dose of intensity and gravity.
ANTIGONE runs through May 19th at the Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix.
Photo credit to Durant Photography
Now & Then Creative Company ~ https://www.nowandthencc.com/ ~ Venue: Theatre at Metropolitan Arts Institute ~ 1700 N. 7th Avenue (at McDowell), Phoenix ~ To reserve tickets, e-mail email@example.com.