Queensland Theatre’s Antigone

Queensland Theatre’s final show for 2019 is the compelling and thrilling Greek tragedy, Antigone. The Fame Reporter team enjoyed a fabulous pre-theatre dining and cocktail experience at the luxurious Soliel Pool Bar at the Rydges South Bank before arriving at the Bille Brown Theatre at Queensland Theatre for the hauntingly beautiful production, Antigone.

The story has been adapted by Merlynn Tong after the Greek playwright Sophocles in 441 BCE. The tragedy is a triumph in dramatic performance unveiling political and social injustices and an exposure into the denial of basic human rights even after death.

The play follows the city of Thebes directly after a tense civil war has ended. Two royal brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices fought against one another, Polyneices on the enemy side and Eteocles fighting for Thebes. They both perish in the war. By default the fallen brothers’ Aunt Creon is crowned the Queen of Thebes. As per the law, Eteocles on Thebes side receives a traditional funeral and burial, whereas Polyneices fought against the city and therefore is to be kept above ground without being laid to rest and displayed in town for all to see and mock.

Jessica Tovey astoundingly plays the title character of Antigone, the eldest sister to the fallen brothers and one of two princesses in the royal family. She portrays the powerful bad-ass woman with such passion as she successfully provides her enemy sibling with his God-given right to rest in the ground in peace. Jessica personifies Antigone with heart and grievance as her character is convicted of this serious crime by Queen Creon, her Aunt, punishable by death. She portrays a young woman with electrifying conviction and desire to do what is right by her family and the respect given to the deceased.

Christen O’Leary wholeheartedly embodies Creon and presents her contemporary and feminist take on this historic 2000 year old character. First of all, Creon in Queensland Theatre’s play is played by a woman which is beautiful and relevant to how strong women have been throughout time. Christen is a phenomenal actress that stands out in any scene and pulls you in with her intensity. Her character becomes Queen after both her nephew’s untimely deaths and her desire is to do right by the people of Thebes. As the new ruler she places the law of the city above basic human rights and family values and that strikes Antigone to her core, resulting in her incarceration. By the conclusion of the story Christen reveals how vulnerable Creon is, when her family collapses around her and she realises the consequences of her actions.  

Creon’s son Haemon is played by the dashing Kevin Spink. His love for his mother is personified in their one-on-one scenes throughout the show; their relationship is also tested as Creon comes in between Haemon and Antigone’s love for each other. Kevin discovers a warmth and openness to Haemon and ultimately chooses his undying love for Antigone over his mother.

The wonderfully talented Shubshri Kandiah exemplifies the role of Ismene in this intense play. Ismene is the sister of Antigone and struggles with finding the balance between abiding by the law so she isn’t condemned and doing right by her family, especially Antigone. Shubshri beautifully portrays Ismene’s innocent nature combined with her power and fight to keep her sister alive.

In addition to her captivating work as an actor, she is the sole singer in the show and belts out buttery operatic songs in vital emotive moments in the story. The tunes are sung gorgeously and fit in to the play like they were always included in the piece and make the situation into more of an expressive and moving production with the added element of music. 

In this production Penny Everingham plays Tiresias, which is originally a man’s role. Penny is breathtaking and a little comedic in her serious scene with Creon about the future of her undoings. She embodies the blind soothsayer of Thebes. She reveals to Queen Creon that by not blessing Polynices with a proper burial, it will bring a curse from the Gods to Thebes and that her family will suffer the consequences.

Queensland Theatre’s production of the juggernaut Greek tragedy is eye-opening and incredibly powerful as it is a reflection of the world we live in. It tackles the debate of law versus family and human rights. See this show for the legend of Antigone and stay for the spectacular performances and the simple but meaningful message of treating people how you would like to be treated and holding your family and loved ones close.

Don’t miss out and get your tickets to Queensland Theatre’s Antigone – head to http://www.queenslandtheatre.com.au to secure your seats until 16 November at Bille Brown Theatre!

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All photos – Supplied