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Theater Thu Aug 16 2012

Old is New Again: A Review of Antigone

Antigone Raw.jpgThe program reads "Antigone: A New Adaptation by Jack Bourgeois." Translation: Bourgeois took one of Sophocles' Theban plays, a work of drama over 2,000 years old, and completely rewrote the text. Hubris on his part? Fortunately not. Updating the play's setting (to a 1964 Thebes) and language (to more-or-less modern speak) serves it well. Unburdened by Sophocles' occasionally confusing verse, the well-known story comes through clearly: Creon decrees that one of Antigone's brothers, each of whom was slain by the other's hand in a war over their father Oedipus' crown, not be given burial rights, and Antigone defies the decree even though such defiance is punishable by death. And yet, while the plot is perfectly clear, the dialogue is still admirably heightened, especially that of Creon.

Scott Olson's performance as Creon is powerful, nuanced, and the reason to see this production. The play's updated version of Oedipus' longtime #2 is a wordsmith, a skilled media manipulator just as interested in convincing and coercing as he is in commanding and controlling. Olson knows how to lay it on delightfully thick, as when he notes that "words are some of the most powerful drugs known to man" or when he dismisses a rebellious, revolution-minded Antigone, whose "quest is becoming ever more quixotic." Casey Wortmann battles Olson well as Antigone, although the volume of her voice tends to get raised when emotions are so. In a charged tragedy such as this, that can be a problem. Thankfully, Shawna Tucker provides a nice, soothing warmth as Creon's wife Eurydice, the woman behind the man in power, reminding the audience, and him, that at his core he is still just a man.

This play utilizes a framing device, in which a reporter (Walls Trimble) interviews Koufax (Radu Vaduva,) the former Commissioner of Creon's Guard and the character in this updating who serves in the role the chorus did in the source material, to get the real story behind Creon's short reign and Antigone's death. The device proves useful as a way to force people in the audience to take a step back and ask themselves if they truly understand the story's characters and their motivations, or if they've just been engaging in a Twilight-esque bit of boosterism all these years, taking sides with either Team Antigone or Team Creon. In tragedy, on stage and in life, it's easy to lay the blame on one party and be done with it, but that's rarely the way it goes. In the case of this production, we're all the better for that.

Performances of Antigone by Cold Basement Dramatics' are Aug. 16 and 17 at 8pm, Aug. 18 at 2pm and 8pm, and Aug. 19 at 2pm at Oracle Theatre (3809 N. Broadway.) Reserve tickets ($20, $10 students) at Brown Paper Tickets.

 
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By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
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Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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