Antigone (Barbican, 22nd March 2015, and Pilot Theatre production)

(c) Peter Linburgh
(c) Peter Linburgh

I saw Pilot Theatre’s Antigone at York Theatre Royal in the Summer.  This was Roy William’ss modern dress version, and Williams updated  by setting the play in an urban cityscape and exploring gang culture. Williams’ version worked really well.  In presenting the play in a modern setting, it explored some of the issues relevant for young people today. Issues around peer pressure and how alternative rule of law can be set up in society.

The production at the Barbican starred Juliet Bonoche in the title role, and was directed by Ivo van Hove. There was many things I liked about this production also presenting the action in a modern setting.  Firstly, I liked the way the Barbican stage was used.  The action was mainly played at the front of the stage using the whole width. I also liked the way that characters moved in and out of themselves to play the chorus.

In Ivo van Hove’s fabulous A View from the Bridge (at the Young Vic, and now in the west End), the sense of the ordinary American family living in an epic Greek drama really comes across.  In his Antigone, there was the sense of an epic Greek drama being transferred into a domestic tragedy.

It felt like the production stripped the emotion out.  Firstly, the company had microphones, which made the sound seem strange and hollow.  It reminded me a little bit of the Wooster Group’s Trojans in their RSC/Wooster Group 2012 Troilus and Cressida. There was also a stillness about Binoche’s performance that stripped away the emotion that had been so prevalent in the Pilot Theatre version.

There were some excellent performances including Kirsty Bushell as Ismende and it was great to see Toby Gordon as the Boy.

Further Details

Antigone Juliette Binoche
Guard Obi Abili
Ismende/Chorus Kirsty Bushell
Haimon/Chorus Samuel Edward-Cook
Teiresias/Chorus Finbar Lynch
Kreon Patrick O’Kane
Eurydike/Chorus Kathryn Pogson
Body of Polyneikes/Boy Toby Gordon

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