|Photo by: Daniel Kaminiski|
Theater Review: Antigone
Translated by Ro’i Hen; Directed by Yevgeny Arye; Gesher Theater, January 28.
It’s To Antigone, a poem by Leah Goldberg in the program notes, that provides
the clue to Yevgeny Arye’s epic, clarion and completely spellbinding production
of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone.
The last verse reads “But all is silenced.
And neither do your dead/Desire to hear your voice./Try to sleep. Rest
meanwhile./Rest in peace upon your fate.”
“You did what was right,” says
the poem, “but nobody wants to hear.”
Symbolically burying her brother,
Antigone (Ruth Rassiuk) defies Creon’s (Shmuel Viloszny) decree that Polyneices’
body be left to jackals and birds of prey, knowing that she will be caught,
knowing that the sentence will be death.
But, says this production, in a
world that has become morally blunt a virtuous rebel is a nuisance, needs to be
swatted, so that the rest of us, like Antigone’s sister Ismene (Carin Seruya),
can go on keeping our heads down.
And that’s what Creon wants.
Compliance, not defiance.
And yet the production is call Anti, not
Antigone, perhaps for that reason, perhaps because we have to make a dent, even
if it’s only a tiny one. To paraphrase the Chorus (Israel Demidov), we’re all
born and we all die, it’s what we do with that thing called life that makes each
of us different.
Michael Karamenko’s set is epic too. The action takes
place on a raked, sandy strand on the edge of the water, backed by a series of
towering brazen doors. These can be the actual palace and environs of Thebes.
They can also be the portals of the Underworld and the river Lethe that leads to
In a strong, skillful cast, three actors stand out.
barefoot Chorus is backed by a three man band in clown make-up and isn’t the
circus all fantasy and illusion? Demidov holds us spellbound, his wry humor
binding us in that terrible irony.
Rassiuk’s Antigone makes us remember
she’s not much past childhood, that the courage she achieves is hard won, that
she’s frightened, that she wants to live, that her act of rebellion comes from
somewhere outside herself, and she wishes it hadn’t.
Humming the Habanera
from Carmen, Creon gets dressed of a morning surrounded by flunkies. First thing
he puts on over his undershirt is a Kevlar vest. He has no illusions about his
After his Creon nobody will be able to fob off
Viloszny as ‘just a comedian’. His Creon is not a monster but a man out of his
depth who plays the King to the hilt, praying that no-one will see he’s really a
And that’s the tragedy within Anouilh’s modern Antigone which
premiered in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1943. The gods have nothing to do with it.
It’s all man made.