Translator Dimitris Maronitis
Director Stathis Livathinos
Sets and costumes Eleni Manolopoulou
Music Charalambos Gogios
Antigone Anastasia-Rafaela Konidi
Ismene Dimitra Vlagopoulou
Sentry Antonis Katsaris
Haemon Vasilis Magouliots
Performed at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus on July 15 & 16, 2016 and then on tour around Greece and Cyprus until September 30, 2016. www.n-t.gr .
*** (out of five)
The National Theatre of Greece has mounted a major production of Sophocles’ Antigone at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. Stathis Livathinos, the Artistic Director of the National directs the production with some mixed results.
Livathinos makes the strong-willed Antigone a high school student who is impetuous, passionate and self-righteous. Anastasia-Rafaela Konidi gives a performance that fits that description. Initially she wears a black dress with a white collar, the traditional uniform of high school girls in Greece. In the end she puts on a bridal veil as she approaches her death. This Antigone starts as a young girl and dies as a tower of strength and resistance. A stellar performance by Konidi.
Dimitris Lignadis is a powerful, dictatorial, blustering Creon. Like all dictators, he is convinced that he knows best and that he is right about everything. That is the Creon that Lignadis delivers. He wears a crown and a cape as he struts around the spacious playing area of the theatre.
Dimitra Vlagopoulou as Ismene displays what some may call cowardice, others common sense, but she does almost rise to her sister’s status by pretending that she took part in her brother’s burial when in fact she did not. Good work by Vlagopulou.
The Sentry played by Antonis Katsaris in a ragged officer’s uniform is a scared man who must deliver bad news. He is entertaining as he struts around uneasily trying to save his skin and describe what he saw.
Creon’s son Haemon (Vassilis Magouliotis) rises from obedient son to thinking citizen (and gets a round of applause from an audience sensitive to dictatorial rule).
The role of Tiresias, who is both a man and a woman, is played by Betty Arvaniti, as both a man and a woman. Stela Fyrogeni is moving as Creon’s bitter wife.
A key question in every production of Ancient Greek Tragedy is the use of the Chorus. We don’t know much about what they did in Ancient Greece but there is general agreement that they spoke, chanted or sang some of the verses written for them and probably danced. What does Livathinos do? He just about gets rid of the Chorus.
He reduces the Chorus of Theban Elders to five people, 4 men and 1 woman, and adds 4 Theban Girls, who are high school students. We know that because one of the Chorus Leaders “teaches” the girls the events leading up to the play. We will see the girls a number of times and they will do some more singing but the question of “what the hell are they doing on stage?” never quite left me.
The adult Chorus usually speak their lines as if they are all just characters in the play. In other words, the most unsatisfactory treatment of the Chorus.
Charalambos Gogios composed music for a small brass band and I am not sure what effect it was intended to produce. The players, members of the Ventus Ensemble looked like something from a Viennese operetta. They sat on the side of the stage except for one time when they went to the centre of the stage.
The Ancient Theatre with its legendary acoustics provided surtitles in English for tourists. The theatre which holds about 14,000 (estimates vary) was almost full with a very receptive audience. From the passing visitor to the aficionado, they all want to see “authentic” Greek drama. The National Theatre of Greece gave them a good taste of it for the most part. Livathinos tried to give us his own perspective of the Chorus and that is quite proper. Unfortunately, it did not work.