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Category Archives: Gorman House

The Greek Project: Antigone

antigone 1It’s with some discomfort that I admit, despite reading it at uni quite some time ago, I never followed the story of Antigone. I have, I think, nodded my way through many conversations, wishing I knew what people were talking about (and I apologise, dear reader, if you’ve been the speaker and interpreted my nodding as comprehension rather than a timid shame). The truth is, apart from some vague awareness that Antigone is the centre of a great tragedy and that she epitomised the Ancient Greek ideal of womanly virtue, I never managed to follow the plot.

Until now.

Canberra Youth Theatre’s production is an engaging and moving piece of theatre that liberates the story and presents it in a manner that is accessible and clear to a twenty-first century audience. It also gives me the impression of being truly believable as a 2,500 year-old play from our antipodes. That in itself is an impressive paradox.

Kitty Malam, in the role of Antigone, is technically solid and anchors the action brilliantly. I would have appreciated, given how much the Thebans honoured her, stronger engagement with the audience. Richard Cotta’s Creon, on the other hand, was brilliantly balanced: truly arrogant and inaccessible one moment, he nonetheless elicited true moments of sympathy, having had his own pride back him into a corner. This was a theme that resonated particularly well this week in this city, as we’ve watched our prime minister severely humbled in circumstances that should have been within his control.

Between these two contenders for our sympathy, the remaining cast engage brilliantly. The decision to present as much of the story physically (eschewing the Ancients’ love of just saying many words while standing still, much like the aforementioned prime minister) was the right one: it liberates the story from the weight of words it was originally created with. Given the collaborative nature of the project, the production truly shows this to be an accomplished cast. Their performance skills do much to affirm the quality of actors coming from Canberra Youth Theatre’s brilliant program. None moreso, perhaps, than Isha Menon, who strikes just the right chord as the paternally-authoritative Tiresias.

But what is truly impressive is the depth of expression these young people have developed in presenting this story in modern Canberra. They have not merely been led by someone older and wiser to portray Sophocles’ characters, but have explored them with the curiosity and drive that most young Canberrans reserve exclusively for hunting Pokémon. Canberra Youth Theatre has done the hard yards, and no longer will I nod pretentiously: thanks to this production, my nods about Antigone will either be deeply meaningful or superficially polite, but nevermore pretentious.

 
 

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They’ve Already Won

theyve-already-won-belvoir-harriet-gillies-pierce-wilcoxI’m not sure what I’ve just seen, but I think I like it. I suspect, and I might just be a little dazed and confused, but it seems it was probably Facebook the Musical.

It’s certainly the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Facebook on a stage: a maze of garbled messages written in sentence fragments, political diatribes interspersed with soft porn and 39 Renaissance Babies Who Can’t Even. It’s the first time someone’s actually read a BuzzFeed post to me, and I kinda liked it. I’m no closer to knowing how to even, but I’ve certainly been convinced that we are all doomed by our inability to communicate.

The show is less play and more, well, I don’t know what it is. Five acts, apparently connected, featuring every kind of performance art from beatboxing to interpretive dance. Harriet and Pierce do everything themselves, it seems. The blackouts operated from a lighting desk on stage and a remote control, and the frequent use of a laptop and projector to remind us that we’re really focused on the internet’s true bottom feeders.

And dull moments? There were quite a few. Perhaps not as many as featured on the actual internet, but the odd creaking hinge could not have more potently reminded me of those moments when I find myself scrolling through masses of absolute rubbish on Facebook until I find myself wondering why I’m looking at something with yet another title like he churns butter in a suit, but when he clenches his buttocks… unbelievable! when there are far more interesting things to do.

I’ve certainly experienced more coherent shows. And more interesting shows. But I’m not at all ready to write this one off. Harriet and Pierce have a point. I’m just not sure what the point is.

Whatever the point is, the show is sure to get you thinking, and is an entertaining way to spend an hour.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, 16 February 2016 in Canberra Theatre, Gorman House, Theatre

 

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