Sophocles’s Antigone, one of his classic Theban Plays, is the story of a woman who defies convention and decree to put the love of her family first.
For Bristol-based Brave Mirror Productions, Antigone is adapted and directed by Jamie Saul, performed on Zoom, and edited by Thomas Duggan. The ten-strong cast are led by Gemma Lee (a powerful and resolute Antigone) and Isobel Granger (giving Creon a heart of stone but a curious unease in assuming the crown).
Antigone, Ismene, Eteocles and Polyneices are the four children of Oedipus, who famously married his estranged mother, Jocasta. Jocasta’s brother, Creon, is the King of Thebes, who has just assumed power when the play begins.
Both Antigone’s brothers are dead. Eteocles is afforded a full burial as a military hero, but Polyneices, traitor and attacker, is left to rot in the open. The King’s decree is for anyone intervening to be put to death.
Young Antigone, a faithful sister, is determined her brother will not be left for the crows to pick at, and so condemns herself. This play is often adapted and revived (see my reviews of productions at the National (2012) and at the New Diorama (2020)), as its themes remain accessible.
In a production less than fifty minutes duration, the tragedy is made both inevitable and unnecessary. Creon’s lack of empathy or loyalty to his niece brings disaster to his own immediate family, as his son Haemon (Oliver Farrell) carries out a catastrophic betrayal of his own.
Despite the simple settings, each character in their own window, Saul’s adaptation brings out the emotional heart of this piece, and explores Antigone (and to a lesser extent, Ismene (Maggie Thorn), as her role is reduced) as a woman of strength and bravery standing up against the rules set to smother her.
Antigone is freely available on Brave Mirror’s YouTube channel and is their first virtual show. It is based on Francis Starr’s translation of the Greek play and composed by Jack Harding. To find out more about the company, visit their website.