Friday, April 25, 2008
Company B’s presentation of ANTIGONE, a version of Sophocles’ play by Seamus Heaney, is a beautiful version which Heaney alternatively called THE BURIAL AT THEBES. Here at least is a young director that cares about the text and seems to respect what actors do. Alas, Chris Kohn, the director, along with his designer Dale Ferguson have made an error by setting this play in a rundown Community Hall on some undernourished housing estate. He immediately reduces the power of the piece. They dress the actors in down market costume, not clothing, so from the given visual circumstances I can’t match the look with the dignity and status of the text. Too, there is big sonorous composed score /soundscape by Jethro Woodward that keeps taking me to grander places –at least to the grounds outside a Palace wall. Deborah Mailman has the focus and charisma to give us an Antigone but is matched up against an entirely inadequate Creon. Boris Radmilovich seemed to be struggling through heightened English as a second language and musically was missing the rhythms of the text and even mishearing the musical cues of the other actors in their exchanges. He seemed to be not in the same space with his fellow players and not able to phrase or find the vocal technical means to argue the text for Creon. No sparks can fly between the exchanges with the other characters. So Ms Mailman’s work is all potential not realised. There is good work from Hazem Shammas (Haemon) and Pachero Mzembe (Guard). The Chorus of Paul Blackwell is all versifying: lovely imaging but no character or argument. Gillian Jones has piercing presence as Tiresias but an injured sound that hardly penetrates the auditorium. Her Eurydice is virtually dumb and has more power for it. This production is a tragedy for Sydney audiences because it has been some time since we have had the opportunity to experience the primal power of Greek Tragedy.