Sunday, 11 September 2022

REVIEW: Antigone at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

It seems lately the go-to option, is to reimagine a classic entirely, making it as current and topical as possible. While some have faltered in the past, some have given a new lease of life to the original. Antigone, the Greek tragedy has done exactly that. Bringing the original tale to life in remarkable fashion. 

Set both in 2018 and 2022 the story centres around our protagonist Antigone (Zainab Hasan), sister Ismene - Lydia Bakelmun and their struggle to educate brother Polyneices (Nadeem Islam) on the difficulties of the world. After a massive argument, Polyneices leaves (2018) and goes missing for years until a major incident (2022) brings him back into their lives. 

Other than the word ‘Antigone’ in inflatable graffiti letters, the stage is bare, a simple yet effective stage design from Leslie Travers that leaves its best surprises till the very end. Excellent choreography from Carrie-Anne Ingrouille makes clever use of the staging and adds to the modernisation of the story, powerful dance breaks emphasise the power of performance. 

As for the show itself, it’s raw and impactful. It gets its message across in all the right ways, using the original elements of the Greek tragedy but in a modernised way to highlight the societal issues with not only the play itself but the world we live in today. A scene where the politicians talk about the soaring cost of living is particularly current and thought-provoking. Made even more harrowing when writer Inua Ellams mentions he wrote this almost 5 years ago. 

The cast all deliver standout performances, from the ensemble throughout to the main characters in the story, all the cast culminate to create a well-told story on stage. Zainab Hasan is tremendous as Antigone. A woman pained by society, she is a joy to watch as she struggles to come to grips with the societal collapse around her. The use of sign language between the siblings whenever Nadeem Islam is on stage is a lovely use of Inclusion. 

There are similarities with this to that of Cyrano De Bergerac, what with the rapped poetry and spoken verses, though make no mistake and take nothing away from this, it’s an entire show altogether, it’s not Cyrano the name we’re leaving and talking about, but Antigone. 

Director Max Webster has created a wonderful interpretation of a classic and leaves the door wide open for much more to follow in the footsteps of this great show and reinvent the wheel on the classic tales from long ago. 

Review by George Butler

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: E33 | Price of Ticket: £45.00
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