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  • Theatre Trip Review - 'Antigone' by Pilot Theatre: Gulbenkian

Theatre Trip Review - 'Antigone' by Pilot Theatre: Gulbenkian

13th November 2014

'Was this production about gangs?' asks a quiet voice during the question and answer session that followed Roy William's reinvention of Antigone. A pause in the auditorium and then a semi-violent outburst from all the cast members. The answer, in short, was no. It was clear the cast were tired of their accents and ethnicity leading to this dismissive conclusion. However this re-staged, re-scripted version of the Greek classic cannot escape the term 'gang culture', nor should it shy away from it. I can't use the word to define the piece, nor could I use it to dismiss it. As far as the character's were concerned, they were in Thebes, Greece, but the bleak urban set, with is spiralling wire pillars and sliding prison railed doors, the every day inner city dialect and accent, the reinvention of King Creon as Creo, club owner and overseer of a criminal empire, spoke of the Britain we live in today. And that certainly wasn’t a bad thing.

Discrepancies aside, the themes entrapped in this 2000 year old play were released with ease. Loyalty, power, dignity. The stubbornness that lies behind the demand for respect. In this sense nothing new was referenced in this piece. This production bought us identifiable characters; Tig (Antigone, Gustily performed by Savannah Gordon-Liburd) the tragic heroine, Creo, the tyrannical leader, Eamon, the product of his love for Tig and his instinctive loyalty to Creo, his father. Williams placed them in Sophocles's epic situation. When Tig defiantly cover's her dead brother's body with her jacket her punishment is to be buried alive. The idea of making a classic play 'accessible' can be patronising in its implication of dumbing a piece down. This didn't happen here. The translation of Antigone to the modern day audience was cleverly epitomised by CCTV footage of the cast's backs being projected onto the set at different moments, subtlety reminding us of an ever watching third party, the translucent Gods.

The death of Tig and Eamon was slightly confused in terms of it's execution, however this did not take away from an emotive finish thanks to Gordon-Liburd and Cole's prior on stage relationship, displaying their honest, simple love for one another, which provided this tragic play with one of its few pools of light. The unknowing innocence behind their bravado worked brilliantly against Creo's clear knowledge of his irreversibly stubborn actions, leaving me with near to no sympathy, and perhaps a small bit of satisfaction, in the ending image of Creo lying crumpled on the floor, distraught at last at the tragic consequence of his determined action.