A tale of the battles between love and power, the people and the power, all in combat against a leader whose dominion and rule becomes his very downfall. This dystopian performance of Antigone, set in the future, modernises the original timeless concept of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy and provides the audience with an understanding of how the relationships between people are timeless – even though the world around us changes, the foundations people build their lives upon stay the same.
The story follows a girl, Antigone, in her journey to free her brother’s soul – trapped forever by her uncle, a soul in pain walking in the shadow of death. In the process a whole family is affected, one barely held together by the very blood line that connects them. To bring this piece right into the future, the story is shown both through abstract and naturalistic performance. The actors creating this piece were from the company Actors of Dionysus and through their use of visceral physical theatre, with choral speech at times, the actors were able to represent holograms using no other visual elements. The performance is set in a world where fate is written in the coding of a computer program, and everything characters know is stored in the “archives” – visually and audibly shown through this abstract movement and choral speech. This intense physicality and togetherness of the cast at poignant moments very powerful – it truly captivated the audience and definitely had a strong hold over my attention. Technology was also a relevant part of the performance in terms of audio sound, which was used to help the audience understand the technical nature of the time being presented. As well as this, drones were said to flock the skies – one woman living life on the outskirts of the city refers to one a bird, showing the newness of this technological age.
Antigone did not lack wit and intelligence – political references and jokes relatable to the world as we know it were made throughout. The performance carried a strong undercurrent of the importance of justice, and a reference to Donald Trump’s famous line of “Grab her right in the…” provoked a very comical audience reaction. Antigone herself is presented as a martyr, willing to die for what she believes is right, while other famous female martyrs through time were referenced from the “archives”; “Joan of Arc – burned at the stake – 15th century”, “Emily Pankhurst – threw herself under a horse – 20th Century” and “Malala Yousafzai – shot In the head – 21st Century”; this gave the performance an impressive edge, combining elements of all past, present and future in one intensive, mind expanding performance.
Overall I felt the performance had a moral meaning, ending on quote of wisdom – “at long last these blows will teach us wisdom”. Despite all his power, the leader of the city was left with nothing to live for, having lost everyone he loved through his lack of wisdom and regard for his people. This is the kind of theatre that is so deeply fascinating that you go away from it having learned something that will never leave you.
Antigone was on at the Djanogly Theatre, Lakeside Arts, on Monday 13 November.