Antigone at New Diorama Theatre
Theatre company Holy What is back experimenting with an energetic, cunning and cheekily irreverent adaptation of Antigone at New Diorama Theatre. Written by Lulu Raczka and directed Ali Pidsley, this reimagining distils the notorious plot into an accessible story of sisterhood as the battle between Creon and our titular protagonist unravels offstage.
Submerged in a circular playpen-like pit of gravel, the infamous sisters, Antigone and Ismene (played by Annabel Baldwin and Rachel Hosker), begin the piece rising up out of the ground. Tension builds as they stare at one another and themselves. Suddenly Destiny’s Child’s “I’m a Survivor” blasts on. They dance as sisters confined to their bedrooms are wont to do. They wear punkish pink tutus dresses, stomp around the stage and smear glitter onto their faces to prepare for their night of fun. Their chemistry is shaky to start but eventually finds its legs. Holding up severity against revelry, Pidsley is clear to have the glitter and grit meld together throughout the production. Holy What’s thematic interest is tangled with their fading youth. Yet, Raczka and Pidsley are clear not to mistake youth for innocence.
The script has humour embroiled in it. The sisters refer to each other as Tig and Issy. Their dialogue is littered with “likes”, the situation is described as “mental”, and when Antigone explains, “I don’t know but I know, you know?” we do. It’s a smart twist on the Sophoclean tragedy. Public questions are contained to private moments between the sisters who mix boy problems with the desire to commit the unimaginable. For the most part, it works well. Yet, when Antigone admits she committed the forbidden by burying Polynices, the script seems to reduce understanding of her decision to an afterthought and is less satisfying.
Ultimately, the play is pleasurable as scenes are laced around Sophocles’ structure. Yet, the final scene extends beyond the tragedy. Hoping to transform a play about sisterhood into a monologue about living sisterless, the script trips and loses its energy.
Photos: Ali Wright
Antigone is at New Diorama Theatre from 7th January until 1st February 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.