Entertainment » Theatre

The Dreams of Antigone

by Christopher Verleger
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Sunday Sep 28, 2008
Rachel Warren in "The Dreams of Antigone"
Rachel Warren in "The Dreams of Antigone"  (Source: Mark Turek)

Trinity Rep launched its 45th season last week with a new play from Artistic Director Curt Columbus, The Dreams of Antigone, adapted from Sophocles' "Antigone," a classic tale of war, family honor and martyrdom.

Written more than two millennia ago, the character and legend of Antigone, the quintessential political activist, still resonate today. As the troubled, unruly daughter of Oedipus (Joe Wilson, Jr.), Antigone (Rachael Warren) defies her uncle, King Creon (Fred Sullivan, Jr.), and pays the ultimate price to ensure her deceased brother, Polyneices (Aaron Rossini), is properly buried. Polyneices was held responsible for starting a civil war after his brother, Eteocles (Mauro Hantman), refused to share control of Thebes, per their late father's orders. After both brothers die by each other's sword, Creon leaves Polyneices' traitorous corpse on display to rot and threatens to punish anyone who thinks otherwise. Much to the chagrin of her sister, Ismene (Angela Brazil), and her lover (and Creon's son), Haemon (Stephen Thorne), Antigone returns to the battlefield, covers her brother in ashes and unapologetically admits to her unlawful activity.

Antigone's story is stirring and undeniably compelling. In Columbus' retelling, she is a shameless drunk from a wealthy family of royalty who helplessly and continuously grieves for her father. The dialogue is remarkably simple, yet mostly profound and engrossing. While the author maintains the work's philosophical and emotional essence with an impressive running time of less than ninety minutes, some of the narrative sequences feel pretentious, albeit in the tradition of classic theater.

The stage chemistry of the entire acting ensemble is impressive and a testament to director Brian McEleney. Sullivan delivers a masterful performance as the resident patriarch, and Thorne is equally forceful portraying his tormented son. Rossini makes an impressive debut performance, Brazil's madness endlessly commands audience attention and Warren, in the title role, beautifully conveys the heroine's strength and vulnerability. An honorable mention belongs to Janice Duclos as Meletia, Antigone's maidservant and surrogate mother, who speaks some of the shows most powerful lines.

Although this play is easily translatable to any stage, designer Tristan Jeffers effectively strews the platform with random materials that convey a haunting, unfinished work-in-progress, still under construction--much like Antigone's legacy.

"The Dreams of Antigone" runs through October 26 at Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington Street, Providence. For schedule, ticket prices and more information, visit www.trinityrep.com.

Chris Verleger is an avid reader, aspiring novelist and self-professed theater geek from Providence. Email cwverleger1971@yahoo.com.


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