“What is a nick?”
Antigone. Perhaps you read it in a high school English class. Maybe you read it for E&D during your first year. Many are familiar with the tale of the defiant sister, who breaks her future father-in-law’s edict in a show of true piety and love for her brother. The play’s themes of refusal to bend to authority and adherence to dearly-held principles are doubtless the source of its longevity. But this isn’t the same greek tragedy we’ve come to know. Anne Carson’s visceral adaption takes the ancient play and delivers it in modern form, harnessing the power of lyrical, poetic and visual interpretation to breathe new life into the classic tale. Under Rebecca Lingafelter’s careful direction, the Fir Acres Theatre’s production of Antigonick brings this contemporary retelling to the stage.
The play centers on Antigone (Amanda Tugangui ’19), the daughter of Oedipus, and her unlawful burial of her brother, an act that prompts Kreon (Evan Howell ’20), ruler of Thebes, to sentence her to death. The set of Antigonick is simple, albeit a bit unexpected for an adaptation of a Grecian play. The audience is presented with a cross-section of a quaint kitchen, complete with clay-tile floors and cornflower-blue accents. The stage defies definition; it is both open and closed, with one wall left incomplete. A piece of the frame of the house lies broken near the front row, an accent becoming of the desolate, provincial tone created by the furniture and props. One cannot help but think that the fractured structure of the house is a befitting homage to the cursed family of Oedipus, perhaps the most renowned example of a “broken home”.
What stands out about this production is its sense of rhythm. Morgan Clark-Gaynor ’19, in a role titled simply the “nick,” spends the majority of the play marking chalk tallies around the perimeter of the theatre, acting as a sort of metronome to which the action and dialogue keep beat. The chorus’s synchronic observations contrast perfectly with the discordant, bold dialogue of the main characters. A beautiful harmony is achieved in every action, from the chorus’s graceful posing to Kreon’s histrionic posturing, which is especially captivating thanks to Howell’s bombastic performance.
One cannot help but appreciate the production’s focus on gender. The choice to not only have the chorus — a traditionally all-male group in a greek play — be played by women, but also to have each woman don a floral dress and stylish black heels, does justice to the self-aware graphic novel from which the play draws. At several points in the play, the group of women clean the kitchen, an action that reminds the audience of the traditionally expected behavior from women, drawing a sharp contrast to the rebellious actions of Antigone. Eurydike (Kyrie Dawson ’18), Kreon’s wife, enters the play with the statement, “This is Eurydike’s monologue it’s her only speech in the play… she’s the wife of the man whose moods tensify the world of the story.” It is a line that poignantly highlights the tendency to define female characters by the male characters to whom they are attached. During the current social and political climate, it feels more pertinent than ever to highlight women’s issues, and Antigonick manages to do so with thoughtful direction.
Antigonick will be showing at the Fir Acres Threatre Main Stage this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re just in the nick of time.