Scene It: Ancient meets modern tragedy in ANTIGONE (NOT QUITE/QUIET)

September 25, 2019

Antigone (not quite/quiet) is a heightened dramatic dance-infused protest play, a new work created by Magnet Theatre in collaboration with the CTDPS. Presented in three acts, each looks at the impact of tragedy from a mythologically inspired perspective, whether ancient or modern.

Drawing loosely from the original Antigone, an ancient Greek tragedy written by Sophocles around 441 BC, the current staging takes a closer look at the convergence point of tragedy and fate; that moment that triggers the fight or flight instinct. This is arguably reflected in the title's parenthesised ‘not quite/quiet', reflecting the out-of-synch narrative framework within which Sophocles’ Thebes is presented as modern day South Africa and its struggles.

 

The audience is first introduced to Ismene, a sister in mourning, trapped in the barren landscape of her once opulent homeland. Act One, Ismene's tragedy reveal danced in a reverse telling, is all about the combined intensity and repetition of movement and spoken word, with a touch of over dramatization and sporadic comedic quips, as performed by Jennie Reznek as Ismene.

Ismene is both fascinated by and fixated on her twin sister Antigone’s courage and commitment to a righteous cause when she, Ismene, cowers under the pressure of knowledge of the law. Ismene’s mourning ritual leaves her pondering how two halves of the same can be so unlike in reason and motivation.

 

In Act Two, Ismene’s temporising complacency is met with Antigone’s rebellious spirit that knocks you off your seat as a courageous chorus gives form to her spirit in a manner that pulsates onto the stage with solidarity and conviction. The ensemble, both in song and movement, is impressive. With principled sincerity, they present the audience with an exquisite execution of the emotion that informs revolution.

Through the ensemble’s graceful and dynamic drumming and chanting the main theme of Antigone is revealed as a call to look to the base rights that inform what it means to be human —dignity, equality and freedom— when calling out the intrinsically wrong in action and character.

 

That empowerment is met with an Act Three prophecy where the Terisias’ ancient wisdom merges with SEK Mqhayi's poetic modern warning to guard against the dogs that speak law to power. The painful agitation of this message is amplified by its broadcasted virtual and emotively manipulated multi-media format.

Antigone (not quite/quiet) may not be theatre presented in a form most people would anticipate, but it will intellectually challenge the way you see the world and yourself within it.

 

Director Mark Fleishman presents the audience with an evolution of tragedy —from its ancient interpretation to the protest character of the present. Ultimately, the audience is left to question whether justice lies with the law of the gods, the law of man, or the call for justice as personal conscience?

 

Antigone (not quite/quiet), with its impressive ensemble, energetic build-up, and clever use of space, is onstage at the Baxter Theatre's Golden Arrow Arena for a limit run, until 28 September 2019. Tickets available online through Webtickets.   

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