Theatre Review: Antigone

A thought-provoking night in the theatre


Presented by State Theatre Company
Reviewed 31st May 2022

The downfall of the House of Laius has become a fundamental narrative in the Western canon. The story of Oedipus’s daughter Antigone has been adapted by such luminaries as Jean Anouilh and Seamus Heaney.

State Theatre Company is now presenting a modern, if not exactly adaptation, then response to, Antigone.

Writer Elena Carapetis has taken the basic Sophocles version and used it as a jumping-off point for various scenes and monologues about the state of the world today, particularly for women. An interesting and honourable idea, and State Theatre should be applauded for supporting this type of new work. However, 90 minutes is not long enough to jam in every topic that was covered. From a play about a woman defying the state in honour of the gods, Carapetis has developed a theatrical excoriation of guns, climate change, Donald Trump, sexual harassment, and Tony Abbott. Aside from it feeling like shooting fish in a barrel, it is simply too much. In narrative terms it is like a live version of scrolling through social media. There is no through-line, or even a solid theme to cling to. However, there are some lovely moments of writing, such as the monologue about Carapetis’s own relationship with the Church she grew up in. This could have been expanded to really engage in dialogue with the Ancient Antigone and her relationship with her gods. A missed opportunity.

There is some solid ensemble work in evidence on stage. Mark Saturno delivers his usual strong and measured performance. Kathryn Adams takes on a variety of roles, including some smashing singing as a post-modern Disney princess. A stronger hand from director Anthony Nicola would have brought more out of her. Kidaan Zelleke is clearly a passionate actor, but spent most of her time shouting and stomping. A dial-back from Nicola would have helped her find more authenticity. Chiara Gabrielli was outstanding, delivering both dramatic depth, and pitch-perfect comedy.

Antigone is a worthy attempt at building something fresh and exciting on the foundation of Greek tragedy. Carapetis has just tried to do and say too much, losing focus in the process.

A terrific production to take young people and drama students along to, with plenty of contemporary cultural references, up-beat music, and a beautiful, simple, production design from Meg Wilson.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Venue:  Odeon Theatre
Season:  27th May-11th June 2022
Duration:  90 minutes no interval
Tickets:  $39-$80
Bookings:  https://my.statetheatrecompany.com.au/overview/antigone

Rating out of 5: 3.5

Photo Credit: Matt Byrne

#Adelaide @StateTheatreSA #theatre

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