Before seeing the production Antigone produced by Northeastern students, I had a general understanding of Sophocles’ play. It was on-par but yet different than what I imagined and interpreted “Antigone” to be. A play originally set in the ancient Greek city Thebes, Antigone encompasses the tragic story of the titular character in a struggle against the king of Thebes, Creon, on the burial of her dead shamed brother, Polyneices. While the other brother, Etocles, will be honored in death, Polyneices and his corpse will be punished for his rebellion he led before his death. This situation brings other family members like Haemon, son of Creon, and Ismene, sister of Antigone, into the struggle and ends in tragic death for all but Creon, who wails of his senseless decision. The production put on by the Northeastern theatre cast was similar to the fact that I imagined it to be placed into one setting. The difference was how the actors set themselves up to portray their characters while simultaneously interacting with the audience.
The acting displayed by the cast was well done.
I was able to hear the words that were being said and able to understand how the story was progressing like Kennelly’s adaptation of Antigone. The cast delivered their lines well enough for me to understand whom they were talking to. The times when the characters of Creon, Antigone, Ismene, or the First Guard had extended dialogue, it felt as though the audience was being addressed as the citizens of Thebes watching the plot regarding Polyneices’ death and burial unfold. At the same time, these actors communicated well with the other actors in their scenes. There was one instance in which Haemon clasped my knee as he was protesting against his father Creon about his decision on Antigone. That specific action was effective in displaying the raw emotions Haemon felt against his father. The actors created a powerful balance of interacting with one another as well as the audience, making the audience feel what they felt as they brought the words on script to life. I was impressed at the smooth transitions between one scene to the next. The cast kept me engaged until the very end.
I cannot forget about the Chorus and its superb involvement during the play. It was as if they were the bridge between the audience and the world created in “Antigone” while helping the play progress towards its end. The play gradually moved towards its ending with the addition of a “blackout” scene that displayed the effects of Antigone’s, Haemon’s, and Eurydice’s deaths had onto Creon. With a red draped robe wrapped around himself, Creon finally acknowledged his decision and consequences that came with it, with the chorus lamenting beside him.
Composed entirely of a minimalistic setting of stairs and what looked to be ruins, the stage was well-used by all actors from all angles. The set design was well-placed in which that every part of it was utilized in order to enhance the emotions of the characters being portrayed. With much of the play starting off in center-stage, it gradually progressed to a point where the cast would not only spread across the entire room, but also including the audience’s space as their own. The design of the costumes themselves were very simple, consisting of mainly black and white robes. This in part helped the focus of the play to be on the internal struggles of the characters rather than their visual aspects. Otherwise, the costumes would have been distracting from the plot of the play.
There was little to no music, which highlighted the importance of the character’s dialogue. The one sound that gave the play a more aesthetic appeal was the humming and melody of the little boy, who was present in almost all scenes of the play. It was as if he served to be a reminder of human innocence being corrupted by the complexities of decision-making between what is morally right and wrong.
Overall, I thought this was a fantastic performance and interpretation done by the Northeastern theatre cast, reminding us the consequences of our decisions and whether or not to choose to listen to those around us.