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Thursday, May 14, 2015


(Casey Milledge & Arabella Latham as King Creon & Antigone)

A production which is completely accessible to a new audience in our modern technological age. (Review by Keith Millar)

Normally, I am not a great fan of productions which alter or update the great literary masterpieces of the past. After all, they are masterpieces because of the brilliance of their original format.

However, it must be said that with their very clever adaptation of Sophocles Antigone, Durban Girls College have absolutely nailed it. They have taken the 2400 year-old Greek tragedy and turned it into a 21st century gem which is fresh, vibrant and wonderfully entertaining. With #Antigone, they have managed to create a production which is completely accessible to a new audience in our modern technological age.

In fact, given the overall quality of the production it was hard to believe, except for the youth of the performers, that one was watching a school presentation and not something on a professional stage.

Antigone is a timeless tale of a strong-willed and determined young woman who defies the edict of her king and buries her brother, Polyneices, who had died on the battlefield. King Creon had decreed that Polyneices was a rebel and traitor and that his body should not be sanctified but should be left to rot. Creon is enraged at Antigone’s actions and locks her away in a deep, dark dungeon.

Creon then faces serious insurrection from his people and, after a lot of persuasion, changes his mind about Antigone’s imprisonment. Unfortunately, in true Greek tragedy mould, he is too late. Antigone has poisoned herself. Her fiancĂ© Haemon, who is the King’s son, finds her dead so falls on his sword. The Queen, Eurydice, dies of a broken heart on hearing this news.

# Antigone follows the same basic story line but with many innovative extras. There are two TV news studios, one on each side of the stage which, along with field reporters, give regular updates of the action. Two narrators are also employed to explain the story and move the action along – while a very accomplished group of drummers provide dramatic bridges between scenes.

We were also treated to some excellent dance from a team of three very graceful young ladies while the cast indulges in a bit of hip-hop and even tries toyi-toying when protesting against Creon.

Multimedia is much in use with dramatic battle scenes being projected as well as filmed backgrounds during the news reports. A lovely touch is the series of tweets scrolling along the bottom of two big screens during these news broadcasts.

Most of the cast dress in modern clothing with plenty of tights, T-shirts and beanies on show. The royalty are clothed in smart business suits while Antigone wears medieval clothing.

The standard of the performances from the entire cast is very high. Great credit must be given to the co-directors Wendy Watson and Kenlynn Sutherland and their team who have coached these youngsters to act with such accuracy and verve.

Arabella Latham as Antigone is beautiful, ethereal and strong. She epitomises the young woman who sticks to her beliefs through all adversity. She also shows a lovely singing voice when she sings a gentle love song composed by herself with lyrics by Kenlynn Sutherland.

Casey Milledge as King Creon is wonderfully regal and pompous as he strides about the stage like a bantam cock laying down the law.

The narrators and newsreaders were very erudite and spoke with perfect eloquence and diction. It was a joy to hear the English language so well used.

One of the highlights was the fine comedy performance by Kae Cele as the Sentry who reports Antigone to the King. Talk about scene-stealing and making the most of a small part – this girl is a master.

There was considerable technical input into this play, with sound, lighting and multimedia all playing integral roles. The contribution from all these areas was creative, effective and professional.

It is a pity that # Antigone at Durban Girls College was scheduled to run only from May 11 to 14. I think it could have enjoyed a much longer run and entertained a far wider audience. It is of great credit to Durban Girls College and their cultural programme that they are able to produce a production of this standard.

# Antigone, along with the work being produced by many of our other leading schools, can’t fail to raise a hope that we may be seeing a re-birth of the creative arts in our City. – Keith Millar