Antigone Now

Antigone Now

Antigone Now

The Center For Fine & Performing Arts, Lake May, FL

by Melissa Cooper

Based on a story by Sophocles

Starring Clare Helwig, Taylor Jewell, Matthew Gennell

Seminole State College, Lake Mary, FL

I’ve never heard “Dancing Queen” played on a tuba before, but every day in your life should offered a pleasant surprise like that. Today’s surprise was the preshow music for this Greek classic, and it was surprisingly effective. Poor Antigone (Helwig)! Her brother Polynices led a rebellion against her other brother Creon (Gunnell) and was killed for his efforts. As the victorious Greeks clean up the city, Creon decrees no one may touch the body of rebellious Polynices, so the stench of his body gives a warning not to mess with this tough guy. It’s an unpopular rule, if only for the smell. But stubborn Antigone disobeys Creon despite the good advice her sister Ismene offers. Antigone buries her brother, ticking off Creon. He entombs her alive, where she hangs herself. Everyone once alive is dead, except for Creon. He’s left alone to rule over the bones and ashes of a cursed city.

With occasional musical interludes, this tale moves swiftly and runs only about 45 minutes. Everything is stripped down; the set is just a riser with a pair of wing panels. The costumes tend toward “what can I wear that is clean” and avoids that trip to the expensive costume shop in Oviedo Mall. Gennell’s Creon presents the smarmy attitude of that privileged prep school guy everyone wants to beat up, just on principle. He shows excellent sputtering and fist clenching and all the hallmarks of a boss in a shop that barely pays minimum. Titular Antigone stood short yet proud. She knows what is right and talks about it loudly, a strategy that is clearly risky, and her best friend (Jewell) acts as her foil, attempting to talk her down from her principles and failing miserably. Sometimes we think back to ancient days and ancient virtues, but people have always been cruel and idealistic, often at the same time. This is a good, solid production: compact and concise and very easy to follow.

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