Antigone ★★★★ Regent's Park Open Air Theatre | September 3 - 24, 2022

Attempts to contemporise and recontextualise Sophocles' Antigone are not infrequent, but this is one of the most successful we have yet to see. Writer, Inua Ellams, brings out the themes of the original play in the context of current British political issues such as terrorism, immigration and the legacies of empire. It is a quite brilliant interpretation that brings to the fore all of the power and complexity of the original in a context that frighteningly resonates with today's events. The political debate is raw and real, and Tony Jayawardena as Creon rings terrifyingly true to what we are seeing in the current climate of political manipulation. This is an outstanding performance that could unfortunately pass for television news. Sandy Grierson as Creon's political advisor, Aleksy, is wonderfully unctuous in his amoral commitment to attaining power at all costs, and the reimagining of the seer, Tiresius, as a data wonk is simply inspired. Pandora Colin as Eurydice provides a fine counterbalance to Creon's other advisors, and the use of the Chorus is clever and innovative. It works beautifully to provide a running commentary on emotions and events. Zainab Hasan does a compelling job in the title role of Antigone. Her passion and fearlessness in the face of injustice are mesmerising. All in all, this is a production that does an electrifying job of raising very controversial issues. It can be fiercely polemical at times, but it also brings out important nuances of argumentation around the complex intersections of politics and religion, culture and custom. This is a reworking of Sophocles' classic that should be required viewing for everyone who cares about the body politic and about the importance of maintaining one's moral compass in troubled times.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Helen Murray.

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