30 May 2012

Antigone by Sophacles in a version by Don Taylor

Antigone - Jodie Whittaker
Ismene - Annabel Scholey
Chorus - Paul Bentall, Martin Chamberlain, Jason Cheater
Chorus - Tim Samuels, Paul Dodds, Craige Els, Ross Waiton
Chorus - Alfred Enoch, Michael Grady-Hall, Stavros Demetraki
Creon - Christopher Eccleston
Soldier - Luke Norris
Haemon - Luke Newberry
Teiresias - Jamie Ballard
Boy - Trevor Imani
Messenger - Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Eurydice - Zoƫ Aldrich
Ensemble - Jo Dockery, Emily Glenister

Directed by Polly Findlay
Designed by Soutra Gilmour

Seen on at the start of the run of this revived version at the Olivier on the South Bank.

Upon entering the space, the first thing to note is that Ms Gilmour's set is derived from a post-apocalyptic imagination of what Denys Lasdun's architecture might leave after wars of sibling claims to kingship, seemingly growing from the iconic design of the National Theatre itself. Effectively, there are only two sets, one of which is seen for a few minutes at the very start of Act 1 but busy, expositional declarations and murmurs of courtly dissent punctuate what would otherwise be scene changes. All of the action takes place in a bustling suite of offices which, however much it waivers between being irrelevant and apposite is an inventive representation of Thebes for this tight drama of politics, ethics and relentless ego.

The performances are fabulous. From the agony and righteous anger of Antigone, the fear of Ismene and the cold, assured conviction of Creon to the comedy of the soldier and the fearless passion of Haemon. From the chorus, Craig Els and Ross Wailton seem to deserve special note but merely by virtue of them having more opportunity than other excellent roles to show their talents.

Many of the company have little to say but are connected to the production with great conviction. Even the eponymous lead role seems sparing with it's lines making her speeches the more powerful.

The morning's papers will reveal whether the rapturous applause was from journalist or friends.

In the audience and in many cases supporting family members in the cast and crew were, Ruby Bentall and Janine Duvitski, Michelle Dockery, Debra Findlay, Oliver Cotton, Rory Kinnear, Adrian Lester, Lesley Manville, Trevor Cooper, Danny Lee Wynter and Roy Williams plus many more. Mel Kenyon and Nicholas Hytner were also there. It was Press Night, after all.

The prawn and capsicum salad was perfect for a summer's evening and nicely complimented by a delicious cheese and warm bread. I didn't stay for desert.