AntigoneLeft - Rachel Dease

When I think “Greek Tragedy” I cannot help but conjure mental images of strange, murderous women wailing through throes of psychosis “Woe is me!” and other assorted self piteous blubbering. In Antigone’s case, if your Dad is your brother and your Mum is your grandma, life is pretty much guaranteed to be difficult.

My own evening started a bit like a Greek Tragedy in itself. After stuffing myself full of Chinese Noodle Soup at a local café I realised that I had managed (as is the case with pregnant women – somehow we manage to never properly reach our mouths to feed ourselves) to cover my pregnant gut with noodle soup also. After the delicious meal, my belly was so big that on attempting to exit the café at the same time as another guest; that I inadvertently trapped the poor petit Asian woman against the door frame. Sorry.

How does this relate at all to Antigone? Ah-ha, dear reader, it was all a part of my cunning plan. If nobody in the theatre seemed to notice that I smelt of noodles, the show must be a success!

I am not sure if the phrase “Lutton-esqe” has entered the Perth vocabulary yet. If not it should. Director Matt Lutton has a particular style that is always very easy to pick – tones of black, white and grey and usually copious amounts of screaming and blood with a bit of interpretative convulsing from corpses or whichever crazy person features in the performance thrown in for good measure. In the case of Antigone it seemed to run parallel to the action and story, rather than with it. This may well have been perfectly intentional. It was not good, bad or otherwise…I was just more interested in all the upfront action. This is a great thing! To hold my interest long enough so I don’t wander off to see what else is happening on stage apart from the actual story itself – bravo! I was dreading a stereotypically feminist adaptation of ‘female’ Greek plays (woman makes a brave decision, woman is scorned, woman goes psycho, woman somehow manages to retain all her hardcore feminist ideologies….not always in that order) and thankfully I didn’t get it. I got a really good story instead.

Eamon Flack’s adaptation of Sophocles’ original text was very enjoyable. Some Greek Tragedy’s have a tendency to make zero sense even after a modern re-writing and I feared this might be the case with Antigone, however Flack’s script was entertaining, witty, talky and to the point. The dialogue moved fast enough to know exactly what was going on without losing any narrative and what became of it was actually a bloody good story. If the actors were standing knee deep in cow poo doing a cold read, it would still be damn good writing.

On the topic of actors – what a hard arse Antigone is! Kate Mulvany makes her a no-nonsense Sheila. If she wasn’t Ancient Greek she’d be one of those bogans that you really don’t want to mess with. Her costume of tracksuit bottoms could have easily been teamed with Uggs and a fag hanging out of her mouth and I would still have been intimidated. Raw, rough, loud. Initially I thought maybe too raw and loud, as this pocket rocket really powers up in the voice stakes, but I believe now that it does create a desired effect. Antigone, after all, was not a chick to mess with. Samantha Murray did a good job as Antigone’s slightly less gutsy sister and worked well against Mulvany.

Everyone had a giggle at Gibson Nolte, as they should. He’s never put an acting foot out of place. Fabulous to see you back on stage, Gibson, you’re always ‘tops’.
Rachel Dease is someone I thought would draw a much larger younger crowd, as the singer for local band Schvendes. If you don’t know who Rachel is already, shame on you. Get with the local music scene! Rachel’s voice was super as always, no surprises there. Strong, cutting, lyrical, never blocking or ‘in the way’ of the action or the story. Her music (Rachel is also Composer) was beautifully retarded and the only complaint I have is there was not enough of it.

Colin Moody bounced off everyone with a heap of energy and was lots of fun to watch as Kreon. A bit freaky as Oedipus in a gross, blind, sleazy pedophilia type of way but I don’t imagine Oedipus would have been a very happy soul anyway. I look forward to seeing Colin on stage again soon.

The ambient, pre recorded sound was a bit passé after the dripping smooth vocals of Dease and live music and as a result felt rather unnecessary. I am positive the world would not have fallen in if it was softer or even non-existent, however that may have felt a bit awkward in a full theatre. The blood also (remember I mentioned “Lutton-esque”?) while visually appealing, had a very strong smell of corn syrup, acrylic paint and washing up liquid. I’ve never experienced fake blood having such a strong smell – I overheard some patrons discussing it on the way out also - which is odd and a bit distracting but it didn’t really affect the performance. It just made the experience a little more stinky. 

Apparently no one except my husband noticed me smelling of noodles as applaud was rather prevalent. Mission accomplished – it must be entertaining theatre. A significantly successful opening night and I wish Thin Ice and all involved a fulfilling season. Antigone is a ‘ripping good yarn’.

2009 Perth International Arts Festival
Adapted by Eamon Flack

Directed by Matthew Lutton

Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre, 180 Hamersley Road, Subiaco
Dates: 21 February – 7 March
Times: Mondays 6.30pm, Tues to Sat 8pm, Matinee Sat 7 March 2pm
Tickets: Standard $35 Club TI & Friends of PIAF $30
Concession $25 Secondary students $15 (for specified schools matinees only)
Previews $25 $10 Tuesdays All tickets $10
Bookings: BOCS or (08) 9484 1133

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