Antigone "One death breeds another"
READ YEAR 13 PUPIL AMY'S REVIEW OF THE SCHOOL'S DRAMA PRODUCTION OF ANTIGONE
Antigone. Many of you will know the story well but, in summation the play starts at the end of the Theban civil war in which both of Antigone’s brother, Eteocles and Polynices, have killed each other. After assuming the throne, Creon attempts to steady the political turmoil by stating that Eteocles was a great hero and be celebrated thusly, but that Polynices was a traitor and therefore must be left unburied. Antigone defies her uncle’s decree in defence of her brother’s rights to a funeral and the honours that are due to the gods. As expected in Greek tragedy this defiance brings about death and misery as Sophocles demonstrates to his Athenian audience the perils of inflexibility and emphasises why they removed the dynasty of kings (Tyrants to use the proper term) in favour of radical democracy. (I must digress and say that at least some humour can be found in our performance, injected by the wonderfully talented and quick thinking Grace and her characterisation of the soldier)
When I was asked to write an article on Antigone it was quite hard to think of an appropriate place to start. This was made harder by the nature of our production. One of the crucial things our director, Mr Woolf has attempted to emphasise in this production is the cyclical nature of Greek tragedy. Echoing Antigone’s line” One death breeds another’ this production starts with an excerpt from Oedipus, the very last lines he said to his daughters before he went into exile. This image is reflected in the fact that the play both starts and ends with a young girl washing a dead body. This is potent and emotive as it shows the true victims of war (Women and children) and encapsulates Ismene’s Centrality to the play. As her family falls around her Ismene is too quickly silenced and too often portrayed as weak. Although a modern interpretation, Aoife Walter has shown to me the importance of Ismene. Her story is a story of perseverance and survival and one that is definitely not explored enough. Ismene is, more often than not, portrayed as a meek girl who provides Juxtaposition to her headstrong, fiery sister. Aoife breaks the tradition and boundaries of this character by instead highlighting her position as a woman against the state. Just as tenacious as her sister (Although perhaps more logical) Mr Woolf has highlighted her significance by simply posing the question what happens to Ismene whilst her family feuds.
Despite this play being almost two millennia old the parallels that can be drawn to the modern day are incredible. Ruby’s representation of Creon stands as a haunting echo as our very own prime minister. Whilst I am not attempting to cast political assertions Creon’s edict (which is in essence a desperate attempt to create order after political turmoil) may as well have had the tag line “Strong and stable”.
As the last play that I will be able to participate in before my time at Highgate ends Antigone is a good farewell. Antigone is a complex character, fitting into no categories defined for her. She rebels against the state for her brother but later rejects her own family, abandoning Ismene. One might think of her as a woman but in reality she was probably no older than 17 if that. Trapping her between childhood ignorance and her desire for independence. Her stubbornness is marred by tenderness leaving the only consistency in her character, her obsession to seek justice.
To prevent the risk of giving away too many plot details I will end this article with shameless self-appreciation. The play was an absolute wonder to be a part of and I would like to give thanks to absolutely everyone in the cast (in such an exposing play every single actor held the fort) along with our director Mr Woolf and our technical director Mrs Banks. I was given the opportunity to write about the play but it would have been nothing without them. Amy 13FG