THE PEOPLE VS ANTIGONE

The Seeing Place, East Village

Creon's guard (Clinton Powell) roughs up Antigone (Sabrina Schlegel-Mejia) in Brandon Walker's contemporary adaptation of Sophocles' classical tragedy. Original photo by Russ Rowland.

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Our Rating

4

Something special seems to happen when a classic is adapted to contemporary times. Perhaps it’s because a story that can hold up through the ages is founded in such fundamental truths—such a testament to the human condition—that it applies regardless of set or setting. Or maybe it’s the perfect blend of the comfort that comes from a familiar tale with the novelty of a change in time an place that makes an event just different enough to be subtly exciting—the way sex in a hotel room is always a little bit better than it is at home. Whether it’s Shakespeare’s As You Like It reimagined as a refugee camp (Arden/Everywhere) or Aristophanes’ Lysistrata on a modern college campus (Ms. Estrada), or taken to the extreme in HISSIFIT, where the myth of Medusa becomes the foundation of a punk rock saga, we love the way today’s playwrights don’t just rehash stale stories, but inject fresh breath into them.

Which brings us to the latest offering from The Seeing Place Theater: The People Versus Antigone, Brandon Walker’s adaptation of the classical play by Sophocles (among others). Updated to depict the eponymous character as a rebellious present-day tomboy (Sabrina Schlegel-Mejia), Walker’s version not only pits idealism against pragmatism across most of the characters, it touches upon modern issues such as gender conformity and police brutality. With Alan Altschuler as Creon, a man determined to prove his worthiness as ruler, Isa Goldberg as his vocal but powerless wife, Eurydice, and Joshua George as Haemon, the son caught between a sense of duty to his father and his love for a woman who (rightfully) questions the depth of his commitment, Walker’s writing and direction pulled us into this story and kept us engaged until the very end, when we almost broke out into tears over the tragic fate of our heroine and the man who—as it turned out—couldn’t go on living without her.

Our only regret about attending this production is that we weren’t able to catch it sooner—it closes today, along with The Seeing Place’s two other pieces in The Whistleblower Series, which examine the fallout when someone calls out tyranny: Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife (directed by Erin Cronican, in which Walker plays all of the characters) and Katherine Viner & Alan Richman’s My Name Is Rachel Corrie, starring Cronican.

We’re already looking forward to what comes next from T.S.P., whether it’s another audience favorite like Jack Goes Boating or an avant garde revival such as last year’s Cloud 9. So if you can spare a few bucks, we encourage you to support their efforts with a tax-deductible contribution. And don’t forget to come back here to rate every live event you attend, and we’ll let you know about future opportunities you’re sure to love!

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