Standing the Test of Time
Laura Clark Greaver is a reviewer for Hitting the Stage. She is an actor, director, business owner and mom who is currently an MFA directing student at UH Manoa.
How could an ancient Greek tragedy captivate the interest of our 21st century youth? Well, when a male playwright (Sophocles), who lived approximately 2500 years ago (441 BC) decides to write about rebellious teenage “girl power” feminism, his play just might withstand the test of time. Add in some modern revisions by Greg Banks, a killer set and musician along with an action-packed cast, and our youth may even talk about the show for days. Antigone is currently playing in the open air on the UH Kennedy Theatre Lawn with an alternative “rain location” of the Lower Lanai.
Antigone is the third installment of Sophocles’ Oedipus trilogy. As with another famous trilogy, (Star Wars), a young female rebel stands up to a ruler (and relative) no matter the cost. Antigone (Anna Hamaguchi), Ismene (Michelle Pitel), Eteocles (Dylan Lee) and Polynices (Alston Albarado) are the four children of Oedipus and Jocasta. Antigone begins with her two brothers Eteocles (Lee) and Polynices (Albarado) inability to rule Thebes together ending in civil war, fighting on opposite sides and their untimely deaths. Their uncle, Creon (Donovan Oakleaf) ascends to the throne and immediately decides Polynices’ (Albarado) is a traitor and his body shall not be buried. Antigone (Hamaguchi), a fifteen year old girl, defies the law, her King and uncle to honor her brother and family. Antigone questions whether an individual should defy a leader and a law when one feels that leader and law are wrong. She is a rebel and a protester willing to stand up for her family and her beliefs at any cost, putting what she believes and what she believes the gods desire, over what her King and law desires.
This modern, shortened, theatre for young audiences version of Antigone runs in a very physical, fast-paced one hour. Director, Mark Branner, along with choreographer, Amy Lynn Schiffner, create a unique rendition by focusing on the physicality of the impulse into action the impulsive characters feel in this story. This impulse is contagious and permeates into the audience, capturing their interest. The physical story telling is intertwined with physical live music in a physical environment to engage a young audience in a classic. This particular version focuses on the relationship and confrontation between Antigone (Hamaguchi) and Creon (Oakleaf). Both actors pack a powerful punch in their performances both physically and emotionally. Creon’s wife, Eurydice (Christine Lamborn) and son, Haemon (Lee) also give strong performances as multiple characters. All of the actors make up the chorus literally physically melding from individual characters to a versatile collective whole and ensemble.
The set in this production designed by Rachel Filbeck, becomes a character in and of itself, affectionately nicknamed “the beast”. Aside from being visually stunning, it enables the actors to create scenes, locations and acrobatics from simple elements coupled with intricate collaborative choreography. Versatile Percussionist, I Madé Widana utilizes multiple items, including the set itself, to create an integrated soundtrack to the action.
Opening night was met with a little wind and a few sprinkles. Be prepared for a park-like house for the audience. Families brought blankets to put on top of the tarp to sit on, some brought camping chairs that can be set up in the back. Bringing a hat and/or umbrella may be a good idea as well. My eleven year old daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed this innovative production. At one point, I turned to find my daughter cupping her hand over her mouth with her eyes bulging out of her skull in shock as to the action on stage. It’s geared towards middle schoolers to adults. There were a number of younger children in the audience, none of whom got upset by the action, though understandably got a little restless. Having seen all three of Sophocles’ Oedipus trilogy years ago, I struggled with my desire for more of the ancient language and story, but this version is much more tangible to a modern and wider age range audience. As with many outdoor productions, the sound was at times, challenging. Outdoor mics had to compete with wind, buses, mopeds and a chorus in many different locations speaking sometimes one word at a time. Overall, the audience was captivated by the story and its modern transformation. This production is an exceptional, one-of-a-kind, high energy rendition of a classic that is a particularly pertinent piece given the political atmosphere of our nation and our global refugee crisis. It sparked many conversations with my daughter including what has to happen in every true Greek tragedy…
Sept. 16, 17, 23, 24 at 5pm
Setp. 17, 24, 25 at 2pm & 5pm
Box Office 956-7655