Antigone

Tuesday evening at BAM, I attended my first production of Antigone. Because it is by Sophokles and because Juliette Binoche starred as Antigone, I feel pressure to make some profound pronouncement on the whole evening. I will leave that to the scholars in the audience. What I will say is that Ivo van Hove directed a production that made this Greek tragedy seem modern and relevant. I was not expecting to relate to the story so readily, but the superb acting and the clear translation of the text by Anne Carson made this play leap to life for me. Juliette Binoche’s Antigone was at times both fierce and vulnerable. Patrick O’Kane’s Kreon was calm as a bomb: chillingly restrained and explosive in equal measure. The actors doubling as both characters and chorus members worked beautifully, and the moments of unexpected humor were a delightful surprise. I had trouble finding the histrionics in this play believable. I often have the same problem in opera, but I know those dramatic scenes are attempting to express primal human emotions. After the performance, BAM hosted a Q&A with the cast. It was a very lively and informative discussion, with full — almost too full — audience participation. It was especially interesting when Ms. Binoche and Mr. O’Kane slipped into their respective characters as they attempted to defend their actions in the play. As for the new seating in the gallery of the Harvey Theater? I’ll give it some time before I comment — and thank you, BAM, for trying to improve it.

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