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Antigone

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
The slides of dead soldiers watched by an unflinching Antigone which opens David Levin’s new version of Sophocles timeless treatise on war sets out its store from the start. Because Levin’s stark, unflashy and contemporary set take on the play may look oddly out of time, but its message is clear. When Antigone, sentenced to death for burying her dead brother, rails at the new king Creon that “You are killing me before I have lived,” she seems to be speaking for every wasted battlefield slaughter ticked off as collateral damage. She echoes too the conscience of an entire generation justifiably disillusioned with politicians. When the terminally self-deluded Creon mutters the immortal “There is no blood on our hands”, the parallels are obvious.

Yet, despite the TV screens littering the stage, from which beam out victory speeches from an empire builder on the comeback trail, there’s an understatement to such flourishes. The Chorus are a be-suited elderly trio who look like some Mediterranean version of Last Of The Summer Wine, gossiping on street corners. The messenger who reports Antigone's misdemeanour is a squaddie in battle fatigues; Tiresias some sage-like old Left voice of reason. Antigone herself almost explodes with rage and frustration in Hannah Donaldson’s gutsy professional debut.

Yet, while never feeling shoe-horned in, there’s an even graver spiritual dimension to Levin’s own production. The sound of bees swarming forebodingly inbetween scenes implies an altogether more biblical calamity than the human cost of Creon’s spectacular error of judgement. When the house lights are switched on as the noise builds to a crescendo, Creon may finally be looking his responsibilities in the eye, but it’s too little, too late.

The Herald, October 15th 2007

ends

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