Spotlight: Antigone

The kids are all right in Sophocles tragedy

Michal Daniel

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This show opens up with a violent crash of percussion, followed by the high-energy entrance of Sophocles' Chorus, reimagined as an attractive group of motormouthed young people. What follows is a slick if indistinct take on the classic. Barbara Berlovitz and Karen Landry play seven roles between the two of them, Berlovitz taking on the title role with oft-extravagant passion and Landry anchoring her end of things with a forlorn sister, Ismene, and a shucks-I'm-in-for-it-now soldier, among others. Vincent Gracieux plays Creon as oddly detached, with a fondness for platitudes and a deepening ire when his obvious bad decisions (leaving Polyneices' body to be eaten by wolves and punishing Antigone for burying her brother, respectively) are challenged. Matters take place on Marcus Dillard's big, stony set, with classical columns and statuary and a circle of gravel that figures prominently in the action. The gestures are writ pleasingly large to match, and the evening is carried on with style and a seeming eagerness to entertain. The performances grow increasingly assured--Gracieux's imperious distance turns to credible despair by the end, and Berlovitz's performance as the messenger who brings Creon a raft of bad news (both specific and philosophical) is the most affecting of the night. The youngsters of the Chorus are called upon to provide a good deal of physicality, and their vocal work is never less than adequate. Director Robert Rosen has the populace taken in by Creon's feel-good rhetoric at first, and they're fresh-faced and gullible as can be. By the end they convey the outrage of betrayed youth, and one can't help but recall the irony of their initial credulity (Creon never laid out more than a line of flattering bullshit, after all). The best of Greek tragedy--its allegories and meditations on public life and fate--come across intact here, although it is hard to find a unifying thread amid the play's disparate elements. Still, its point about political intractability and staying the course on bad decisions is not entirely lost.

 
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