Review: Antigone

King’s Theatre, Lothian Road Edinburgh, Until August 22nd
1 Stars (1 / 5)

‘I don’t think I’ve ever felt such vile loathing for a piece of theatre.’
– Overheard at Overheard at King’s Theatre last night. The show in question?

The much hyped, much anticipated Antigone, starring Juliette Binoche and Patrick O’Kane.

As the sun dawns, a hot desert wind blows furls of paper across the landscape. Enter Antigone stage left. The bones of her skeleton rise nobly beneath the fluttering fabrics of her loose black clothing. She is fragile yet strong. She is saying so much, though she hasn’t yet spoken.

When she does speak her amplified voice fills the theatre; such a big sound from a tiny body. All the actors are mic’d, which you get used to, but it does lend an air of self-consciousness to proceedings. Perhaps this goes some way to explain the seeming lack of engagement between the cast and their lines. When they shout, it’s as though they’re mindful of a voice class back in their college days when they were taught to be mindful of nodes. They speak beautifully, but they may as well be reading Kubla Khan. Only Finbar Lynch and Obi Abili offer us anything approaching authenticity.

It’s not only the actors who let the evening down. The decision to have cast members deliver whole speeches with their backs to the audience undermines our whole emotional connection with the story – quite simply, no one’s back is that interesting. The Chorus step in and out as different characters, a device so poorly executed that it’s almost impossible to keep up, which is ironic given the deathly pace of the thing.

But it is expensively pleasing to the eye. Particularly the sun, which is reminiscent of Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project at the Tate Modern years ago. Now that was a show worth seeing.