REVIEW ; `Antigone' a Glimpse at Theater of Yore

By Autumn D. F. Hopkins | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), April 26, 2014 | Go to article overview

REVIEW ; `Antigone' a Glimpse at Theater of Yore


Autumn D. F. Hopkins, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


The cast and crew of the Alban Arts Center made the most of a piece of theatrical antiquity Thursday night in their presentation of "Antigone. Considering the play was written by Sophocles around 441 B.C., and translated into English by R.C. Jebb in 1893, one might expect the content to be, to put it delicately, dry. But once you get past the stilted language, the dramatic content rivals that of any modern-day soap opera. Familial intrigue, the will of Greek gods, the will of an unyielding king and a sordid history of incest, curses and murder make for an intense hour and a half. However, this play, although written first in the trilogy, is chronologically the third in series. So if you haven't brushed up on your Greek mythology since college, you may want to at least take a quick Wikipedia refresher on Oedipus and his trials before you see the show.

The play is overwhelmingly intense, opening with Antigone (Leslie Raab) ripping at her hair and screaming at her sister, Ismene (Mandy Petry), over the deaths of their brothers, one left unburied outside the city gates. Antigone wishes to bury her brother against the decree of her maternal uncle, Creon (John Halstead), now king of Thebes in the wake of her parents' death.

The drama never lightens from there. Halstead is absolutely chilling in his portrayal of the vicious and vindictive king, hellbent on punishing his niece's disobedience in direct opposition to not only the will of the gods, but the counsel of his wife, Eurydice (Jenna Skeen), and the dire warning of the seer, Teiresias (Melanie Larch). Eventually he walls her up in a tomb, alive. Did I mention she is engaged to his son, Haemon (Thomas Halstead)?

The entire cast is stellar. In addition to the standout performance by Halstead, Jenna Skeens gives an impeccable portray as his queen. Stately and reserved, she offers wise counsel, which he recklessly dismisses at every turn.

The absolute standout scene comes when the two sisters, Antigone and Ismene - the first walled in a tomb, the latter bemoaning her sister's fate from outside the impenetrable wall of her grave - simultaneously deliver monologues, often times overlapping, woven together like a conversation. …

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