Sophocles' Antigone
Who is Afraid of Antigone?

Garage Theatre, Edinburgh
Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 1998

Review 1 by Spiros Diokas

..If we were to classify this work we could definitely place it in the shere of experimental theatre, postmodernism and the avant - garde. The directress tells us that all her performances are in fact " work in progress" (the performance in question is the second version of " Antigonei" ) something which is suggestive of one of the postmodern devices, that of a non - conventional end : the open - ended narrative. The insertions in Sophocles text remind us of the postmodern persistence on intertextuality, that is to say the inderdependence of works of art and the blending of chronologically and stylistically heterogeneous discourses. Two texts interpolate in Sophocle's work, "Against Saducces" by Mihalis Katsaros (read by himself ) and the " Hymn to love" from St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, which is one of the most moving moments of the whole performance.

The use of different linguistic variations (Modern and Ancient Greek, New Testament Greek and English ) constitutes a development on last year's performance which was spoken only in Modern Greek. On the other hand, it seconds the postmodern and multicultural quality of the production. Perhaps it insinuates that in this time of globalisation art should widen its sources rather than limiting them. Another interesting innovation is Eurydice's last entrance, an enchanting solo dance which is the emotional denouement of the play.

In the hands of Maria Panoutsou a plain piece of white cloth can become a symbol of love, maternity or death, and successively transform into lover, swaddling clothes, and shroud. And it is precisely this symbolistic ingenuity, which requires an inquisitive spirit, a profound theatrical education and an unfailing mindfulness from the audience so that they may be bale to decipher the encoded messages and the indirect allusions to characters and situations.

The boldest intervention is Tiresias monologue which is enacted by the directress herself ( thus alluding to an hermaphrodite nature ) who has divested herself of her theatrical attire and reappears under the guise of an intruding spectator. Such a move would be applauded not only by Brecht - whi insist on " alienating " his audience by reminding them that all they see is nothingbut a performance - but by the contemporary Augusto Boal who according to the etiquette of the " Theatre of the Repressed" the spectator can become an actor ( a " spect - actor " and influence the outcome of the play. This is the point of focus for the polemical side of " Tomee " theatre, as it become a form of art engage with the aim of fighting against the injustice in the play and by extension, against the injustice in the world.

To conclude, the version of Antigoni by Maria Panoutsou not only makes great demands upon the spectator but a certain moments it deliberately changes into anti- theatre, and undermines theatrical conventions. The fact that this production was successful in moving the Edinburgh audience and that all performances were sold out suggests that it managed to avoid the pitfall of a stale, " academic ", dramaturgy ( a common pitfall for the avant - garde) and thus finding an avenue of emotional communication with its audience.

Perchaps the words of Franz Kafka are quite apposite in this case ( as written by Kafka in a letter to his friend Oscar Pollack) :

" The books we need are those that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide, or lost in a forest from all human habitation - a book should serve as the axe for the frozen sea within us."

I believe that the aim of Maria Panoutsou and "Tomee" theatre on the whole, is similar to the one envisaged by Kafka for his ideal literature, and that any imperfections ( or " unperfections/- unfinished as it is as " work in progress ") are an integral part of the wider creative process.

Review 2 by Kathryn Koromilas

If you are haunted by the myth of Antigone then the Tomee Theater Company's interpretation of Sophocles' tragedy, on a National Theatre Monday night will add another fascinating dimension to the much - loved mythical persona.

The Tomee Theater Company has been work - shopping the Antigone story for four years. This presentation is the third in a series and is subtitled The Worship of the Dead. This particular version is more like a patchwork of sorts as it incorporates, apart from Maria Panoutsou translation of Sophocles text into Modern Greek extracts from Euripides, The Bacchae, Aeschylus' The Seven Against Thebes and Shakespeare's King John.

The five perfomers that make up the cast are engaged in the untravelling of a tale, linked by a series of segments, each of which explores various interpretations of the myth. Panoutsou's abstract and stylistic direction of these 13 images including "Yes, I am Antigone ". "The Burial" , " Why Polynices, Why Ismene", and finally, " The Worship of the Dead", demands a solid knowledge of the Antigone story. The production is a nostalgic attempt to understand the fate of the leading character. Antigone herself addresses the audience in the beginning of the play saying that she has returned to the stage in response to the general public's curiosity about the myth that she embodies.
Two women share the role of the heroine. One is the personification of the Antigone we all know. The head- strong girl is played by actress Christolina Kalianioti whose 20 - something physique exudes the strong and unrelenting presence of the radical adolescent. The second is played by Panoutsou whose provokingly feminine 40 - something figure presents a sweet, subtly erotic and world- weary Antigone who, in the show's finale, steals Creon's words as her own.

In directing two women in the role, Panoutsou presents a more human picture of Antigone, one we don't see in the ancient tragedy where the main character's single - mindedness results in a one - sided portrayal of the anarchic girl.
Panoutsou blends the various ancient versions of the myth with recent interpretations, including Steiner's famous work, entitled Antigones, in which he explains why Antigone is the most loved of all the ancient tragedies. The result? The image of a woman during the different stages of her life: a human Antigone who reveals herself in moments of child - like joy, maturity, instict, eroticism, experience, friendship and violence.
Panoutsou's choreography is dynamic and has Antigone dancing and laughing and playing. The director incorporates song and a toubeleki (a percussion instrument) on which actor George Vournas beats a tune while Vivi Mastora Evokes Dionysus. On version of the myth has it that the god visited Antigone in her tomb and it was his bacchic influence that led her to hang herself. In this production, Dionysus makes an appearance to have an erotic encounter with Antigone.