Regional Reviews: Raleigh/Durham
Antigone (Valerie Pesot) wishes to bury her fallen brother, who died fighting against the state. Because of that treason, their uncle and current king, Creon (an outstanding David Snee), has decreed that his nephew's body remain unburied, denying him the opportunity to pass on to the underworld. Antigone urges her sister Ismene (Brynna Rosenberg) to help her right this wrong, but Ismene is afraid, knowing that if they give their brother's body burial rites, they will surely be put to death. It is Creon, though, who will learn what comes of attempting to overrule the laws of the gods.
This production is a result of the combined efforts of Raleigh Little Theatre's teen summer conservatories: Teens on Stage and Teens Backstage. They use Don Taylor's translation of the play, which does not venture far from the source material, mainly making the language more understandable for modern ears. Under the superb direction of Meredyth Pederson Cooper, the cast (mostly high school students) tackle Sophocles' play with all the weight and attention one would expect from more seasoned professionals, though there were moments when line delivery brought unintended laughs from the audience at the performance I attended.
As Haemon, Creon's son and betrothed husband to Antigone, Sean Moss has an attentive intensity that shows future promise. Hannah Cox, as the messenger, brings a welcome touch of humor to a very dark play.
Scenic design by Kylee Silvas beautifully yet eerily evokes a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by war. Lighting design by Ryann Norris and sound design by John Maruca only add to the fine details. Costumes by Elly McClanahan are simple yet artful. The chorus members adorned in military camouflage show uniformity yet provide variants that show individuality.
I find it interesting to see a play named after its female protagonist, who pretty much disappears after the first half. It seems even in Sophocles' time, women were still struggling to make their presence known, and men's stories were more important. Even though her presence is overshadowed by Creon's, Antigone's strong will and determination shape this story, and her refusal to bend to power she thinks wrong feels very contemporary. Whether you agree with Creon or Antigone, I hope we all can agree that differences of opinion should never be allowed to go as far as they do for this tragic family.
Antigone, through July 28, 2019, at Raleigh Little Theatre, Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh NC. Tickets can be purchased online at www.raleighlittletheatre.org or by phone at 919-821-3111.
Cast: (in order of appearance)