This weekend the TFTV department has been abuzz with third year performances; the culmination of three years of hard work in the form of two Greek tragedies, Euripides’ Hekabe and Sophocles’ Antigone. With admirable levels of professionalism, the cohort have developed two projects of absolutely stellar standards, leaving audiences utterly wowed.
On Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of seeing Antigone, a tragedy in equal parts about family, justice, love and loss. The show opens following the deaths of Polyneikes and Eteokles, the brothers of Ismene and Antigone- all children of Oedipus. The audience learn of these events through dialogue between Antigone and her sister, during which Ismene objects to Antigone’s desire to give her brother a proper burial, despite it being forbidden. Ismene tells her sister that she is “in love with the impossible” and she chases that impossible for the whole show.
The first half of the play allows for glimpses of comedy, and Sophie Parkin is the light that shines through the darkness. Even while bringing Antigone to her certain death, Sophie’s quips are perfectly timed to tempt a giggle from the audience. The space for humour quickly diminishes, however, leaving the second half to explore more deeply the tragedy at hand.
Ashleigh Thomson’s impeccable set, co-designed with Rachel Horner, sprawls across the space and comes to life under eerie, dynamic lighting changes, damaged and imposing at once. A particular highlight comes towards the end of the play, when sparkling treasure is revealed underneath the rubble, lit up in symphony with star-like flashes around the theatre. In all, the set and lighting have a certain enviable simbiosis, with haunting projections of the cast occasionally bringing extra flare to the action on stage.
Ed Foster cannot go without mention, his character progression as Kreon an invaluable asset to the plays trajectory. He grows into a formidable leader, until quickly and brilliantly descending into a heartbreaking madness. Ed brings a vulnerability to Kreon that makes his downfall all the more spellbinding.
The chorus, an essential feature of any tragedy, were perhaps the most compelling feature. Harmonious movement, paired with eerily spoken motifs made for an effective force to drive the plot and emphasise moral questions. It is in the chorus that the direction truly shines, brought to life by the fantastically committed group. They stand to mediate the often unmediated raw emotion of tragedy, and do so brilliantly in Antigone.
Of course, Rebecca Storey was utterly gut-wrenching as the eponymous Antigone. Her defiance is the fuel the play feeds off of, propelling the story to a painful climax in the scene preceding her death. She brings a necessary nuance to the role, balancing the rebellious streak of her character with the heartbreak that comes hand in hand. She is the perfect feminist heroine for the play, a wonderful force of nature in the face of the men trying to hold her back.
In both Hekabe and Antigone, the audience were treated to some of the unbelievable talent York students have to offer, and both are a testament to the TFTV department. To access the raw emotion in the somewhat hysterical Greek plotlines is not an easy feat, and the WDP third years have hit the nail on the head in Antigone.