by Becki Watson
The last weekend of November marked Rostra’s first project of the year, Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone. The play follows the story of Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, in the years following her father’s banishment and death, and the war that killed her two brothers. After the new king Creon declares that one brother would be buried as a hero, and the other, Polynices, would be left unburied and unmourned for betraying the city, Antigone defies the law and buries her brother by herself. When she is discovered by the King’s guards, Creon sentences her to death, despite the protests by his advisors that such a move would anger the gods. The following events, despite the desperate attempts by Creon to avert them, end in tragedy for the royal family.
The directors of Rostra’s Antigone, Helen Pitcher and Michael Costa, took the decision to set this Greek tragedy in the modern day, and used the chorus actors as newscasters and journalists to deliver the monologues that frame the play. This worked really well, as it established what was happening in the play, while drawing the audience further into the play, and gave them a deeper connection with the plot.
The cast also gave some very compelling performances. Catherine Johnston took on the lead role of Antigone, and portrayed the doomed woman with dignity, strength and real emotion. Chris Topham was also fantastic as the stubborn and arrogant Creon. Creon is a challenging role to play, and he carried it off superbly, inspiring sympathy in the audience as Creon suffers the effects of his bad decisions. The supporting roles were equally as enjoyable, with Daniel Blaney as Haemon, Antigone’s heartbroken fiance, and Nicholas Yerally as Teiresais as the blind prophet having particularly stand-out performances. The cast as a whole were brilliant; the atmosphere was palpable, giving a sense of tension and foreboding throughout the play until the tragic climax.
Overall, Rostra’s performance of Antigone was a highly enjoyable performance. The cast and the direction were excellent, and truly brought the Greek tragedy to life. Rostra’s next project is a pantomime of Cinderella, and the first showing will be a matinee at 2.30pm, with an evening performance at 7.30pm, on Sunday 9th December in JP Hall. I, for one, am thoroughly looking forward to their next performance!