Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (venue)
11 September 2022 (released)
12 September 2022
There is something very special and powerful about this adaptation of Sophocles tragedy Antigone. by selecting to root it within the politics and family feuds of a British Pakistani community it exposes so much of what is fundamentally corrupt when choices have to be made between humanity and leadership of a country. The poet and playwright Inua Ellams, began writing this 5 years ago when the country was gripped by the fear of terrorism. When it would have been that aspect of the play had the most resonance. Little did he know how much more impact it would have in a time when the country is mourning the Queen, and honour, burial and ceremony are the challenges we face as divided communities , religions and views try to come together.
Ellams rousing verse combined with Carrie -Anne Ingrouille's jerky suppressed choreography elevate the 'Chorus' moments into powerful comment on the action which live long in the memory. This ensemble quality extends to the company of characters that show their full commitment to the storytelling. Each one eking out and digging deep for the heart and the emotions their characters require. They make this real, they make this journey of discovery a gripping piece of drama that had this critic leaning into the action, not wanting to miss a moment. With so many parallels concerning diverse beliefs and struggles it provokes the audience , and at times comments heard from them showed how much they were involved.
Max Webster and Jo Tyabji's direction provides terrific focus and feeds the flames of this retelling with the creative talents of Leslie Travers set that begins as a 'pink playground' of bold lettering spelling out Antigone, which is then destroyed leaving a stark reality of cold steel. Jack Knowles lighting and Khadija Raza's costumes are also dramaturgically spot on.
As the closing production to celebrate 90 years of the Open Air Theatre this is perfect. It sits within the environment so well with its epic /tragic story moving from celebration and colour to dark deeds and outcomes; mapping perfectly with the deepening night-time and the ever possible threat of a storms.
Theatre at it's very best.