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Based on a stage production that played the Edinburgh Festival and
London's Barbican Theatre (and filmed at the Barbican), Ivo van Hove's
revival of ANTIGONE in a new translation by Anne Carson offered a
chilling comment on despotism and its consequences.
Played on a largely bare two-leveled set, with a massive illuminated
circle at the back of the stage, van Hove concentrated on Kreon's
(Patrick O'Kane's) willful rule, as he condemned Antigone (Juliette
Binoche) to death for daring to want to bury her brother - whom Kreon
had previously declared a traitor. Despite numerous attempts to change
his view, notably from his son, Kreon remained firm and by doing so
precipitated a cycle of destruction extending far beyond the limits of
his mortal rule.
As Antigone, Binoche came across as someone more than willing to place
personal feelings above political loyalty, even if it meant a willing
acceptance of death. Speaking as much to the audience/ viewers as the
other characters, she outlined the reasons for her decision. Her death
was performed in ritualized fashion, as she lay on the stage floor and
was gradually lowered beneath the stage by means of a trap-door; a
repeat of what happened earlier on when the trap-door came up from
under the stage to the stage floor, illuminated all the while. Her
brother's corpse was not physically present on stage, but the lights
signaled its presence.
The illuminated globe at the back of the stage changed in color from a
bright yellow sun to the iridescence of the moon, before being
completely obscured towards the end. It demonstrated the gods'
perpetual presence within the protagonists' lives - despite Kreon's
futile attempts to repudiate their authority, they had a final say over
The back of the stage was also illuminated by black-and-white films of
a ruined city, of characters walking aimlessly around and (towads the
end), a massive projection of Antigone's body following her death.
Through this strategy van Hove suggested that what was taking place was
no domestic tragedy but involved the whole of human life past and
present. Despots still tread the earth today, and destroy the people in
much the same fashion as Kreon.
Perhaps the most startling innovation in this revival was the doubling
and trebling of roles, showing that there was no distinction between
the Chorus and the characters whose actions they described. This
strategy proved that the Chorus was not an arcane convention, but a
highly intelligent means of demonstrating what was going on within the
protagonists' minds. Their consciences were externalized, so to speak.
In a world apparently riddled with civil wars, where despots continue
to rule, often to the detriment of their nations, ANTIGONE seemed
highly significant as an analysis of what happens to human beings,
should their desire for power get the better of them. Definitely worth
looking at more than once.
Tags for Antigone at the Barbican Full Movie
, Kathryn Pogson
, Obi Abili
, Patrick O'Kane
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