Bold, Dramatic Antigone

Widely trailered as a fabulous re-enactment of of Sophocles Greek tragedy, the King’s Theatre’s first night of Antigone played to a packed audience.  With actors and scenes of drama of a very high calibre, rarely, as a reviewer and occasional performer, have I experienced such a gripping theatrical offering.

Juliette Binoche plays her part as Antigone – an early example of a true feminist and much more besides – with passion and conviction. Brilliant actor, Patrick O’Kane as Kreon, is uncle and guardian of Antigone and her sister Iseme (played by Kirsty Bushell). So begin the bitter verbal exchanges over the deaths of their brothers, and Kreon’s opinion of his own unalienable right to decree what should happen to the corpses and his own right to rule Thebes following the end of the bitter civil war.

The stage set is minimalist and dramatic. A huge moon, brilliantly lit in all its phases – from new to full –  hangs dominantly over the stage and the background is softly lit.  There is a quiet video scene of modern day in contrast to the main action – supporting rather than detracting from the battles being conducted verbally and physically in front of it.

The ‘Chorus’ comprising senior advisors and including the actors in their dual rule are summoned by the still despotic Kreon to advise on the way ahead for Thebes. Allegedly Kreon believes this should be a democratic process but only if he agrees it. Initially the Chorus means to be non-judgemental but quickly turns on Antigone, blaming her for the tragedy of the unburied bodies of the two brothers who were meant to share power following the death of their father. But the brothers had met a violent death during the civil war.

I found it impossible to single out any of the actors to praise more than others;  each of them was a brilliant example of personal talent being almost subsumed to portray such drama as highlights the aftermath of  conflict. The terrible wars and lust for power, mitigated by some individuals with the courage and integrity to speak out against tyranny, was acted out with such conviction it reminded me how the circle still turns.

In between the arguing, bitter words and some violence, flashes of humour lighten the atmosphere, rippling round the audience in a way unexpected but, I felt, bringing us together within the action unfolding on the stage in front of us.

Ivo van Hove, the director of the play and his team will, I believe, be rightly proud of this production. The play runs on the advertised dates until 22nd August. So there is still time for Lothian Life readers to try to get along to this wonderful play.

The Kings Theatre, Edinburgh


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Christine Richard OBE FRSA Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.

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