Théâtre Excentrique at PACT theatre, Erskineville
Directed by: Anna Jahhah
Playwright: Jean Anouilh
Translation by: Kris Shavey and Anna Jahjah
Starring: Rosyln Blake, Kate Fisher, Kirsty Jordan, Aurora Kinsella, Karl Kinsella, Philippe Klaus, Neil Modra, Gerry Sont, Ellen Williams and Blacktown Girls High as the French-speaking Greek chorus.
Synopsis: Antigone says “No” to everything and everyone. To king Ceron, who has banned the burial of her brother. To her sister Ismene, who thinks she is a mere little girl not up to the task. And to life itself, if it involves compromise. Anouilh’s Antigone is a powerful reinterpretation of Sophocles’ tragedy questioning our ethics and notions of power, politics and individual liberties.
Review: I don’t know what it is about Greek tragedies that are so infinitely powerful. Perhaps it is the era in which they are written, the mastery of the perfectly blending the human condition within Greek mythology. The mystery, the drama, the elaborate exposé of the human condition.If written today perhaps would come across far-fetched and sensationalized. For some reason it rings true in the hearts of men centuries on because our condition doesn’t evolve as much as we think. Anouilh’s adaptation is beautifully portrayed in Shavey and Jahjah’s translation.
Director Anna Jahjah has brought together an ensemble of variable levels of novice and experienced actors making this community theatre packed full of diversity and intrigue. What I loved most about Jajah’s direction is her use of the vast PACT space and her ability to maintain the quality of the work by tapping into the tempo of the play by insuring there was constant motion if not in her cast in her choice of set design. These choices kept an emotionally hostile work balanced, with an equally engaged audience throughout.
Jahjah’s cast where deeply immersed in their characters making for a delightful and engaging production. Ellen Williams as Antigone performed with heart and vitality making for a recognisable modern activist that refuses to compromise her beliefs for the sake of a failing system. Williams put forth a brave character that had you question your own standing on what we allow to occur in the world around us, and what is worth dying for. Do we even think like this anymore? Like Jahjah stated in her director notes what is Antigone really saying ‘No’ to? This of course is suggestion left un resolved in the writing. Perhaps a question we are left with to answer on our own, within our own understanding of the world and that tiny yet powerful word in our English language ‘no’. I can see why Jahjah chose to have her audience sitting in tranverse seating. Forced to look at each other as we witnessed this incredible story.
The French have a natural ability to wrap quirkiness into their theatrical unfolding of narrative. Jahjah is no exception living up to her French roots within a wonderfully multi-cultural Australian cast that added sang-froid to the dramatic.
This coming together of community and heart made for an enjoyable night at the theatre where diversity and the love of story, truth and art became one unit.
Antigone is playing until the 2nd of May