Carson's adaptation is transferred to the intimate stage of the Ashby Playhouse as a 75-minute fast-paced drama of interruption, ambiguity, and collage. This is cutting edge drama at its best, skillfully spare and energetically compact.
The inventive directors/choreographer employ modern stylize dance movements, strange speech patterns, closed-circuit video projections, and expressive music with vocals composed by Beth Wilmurt for this electrifying presentation.
The choreographed movements of the actors in this tragedy are surreal. There are variations on children playing hopscotch, walking on tiptoes, and a little of Martha Graham Dance Company dancing. The speech patterns are strange, especially in the first eight minutes of the play where there is shouting and staccato outbursts as Antigone (Rami Margron) and her sister Ismene (Monique Jenkinson) argue about Antigone's rebel brother's body being sanctified by holy rites. Finally, the Chorus (David Sinaiko) comes in to tell the story of Antigone. There is also Nick, dressed all in white, who has a mute part and is always on stage. He is the measure of time in this production. Played by Parker Murphy, he has striking movements and captures the dramatic unfolding of the plot. His communicative signs carry the play.
A very fine cast of actors has been assembled to partake in this bold and challenging work. Rami Margron gives a striking performance as Antigone. She plays the role very stoic and speaks in somewhat spasmodic language. Monique Jenkinson, who plays both Ismene and Eurydike, gives a marvelous performance, especially as Eurydike, facing a projection of her own live-feed image in a monologue that successfully expands the passionate tone of the drama.
David Sinaiko is outstanding as the Chorus. He is a professor who makes droll comments about the grammar of the scene. He is both melancholy and sardonic. Kevin Clark is excellent as the militant Kreon who pompously announces his verbs for today (adjudicate/legislate/scandalize/capitalize). Kenny Toll plays three roles admirably: the jumpy guard, a forbidding messenger, and a frantic Haimon.
Nina Ball's set design is wonderful. She has built a light wood wall at the back of the stage that curves and becomes the stage floor. Actors try to walk up it and fall down. Stephanie Buchner's lighting adds drama and shadows, and Theodore J.H. Hulsker's sound design is awesome, full of microelectronic and instrumental sounds mixed with sound effects like ticking clocks.
Antigonick plays through May 3rd, 2015, at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley. For tickets go to www.shotgunplayers.org or call 510-841-6500.