Monday, February 04, 2008

Antigone



Blue Monkey Theater
February 1 - February 24, 2008

Review by Thursday:

Anouilh's modern interpretation of Sophocles' ancient play follows same story-line. Show includes audience interaction, and smartly plays up ironic comedy of piece. Overly obvious blocking continually places Antigone "outside the circle." Pretty, well-integrated design is occasionally intrusive. Teen actors' performances noticeably weaker than adults in cast. Sikking, Porter, and Fletcher shine.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grant Turner? As in Northwest Classical's director? Should be interesting.
Also curious to see if Antigone generates as many postings on this site as their (Blue Monkey's) previous shows.

hanuman said...

Yes, that Grant Turner. While Grant’s at the helm of Antigone, Blue Monkey Artistic Director John Monteverde takes over directing duties for Northwest Classical’s show, The Importance of Being Earnest, which opens Feb. 9.

Anonymous said...

I had the opportunity to see their final dress last night. I was impressed with Antigone, she did a damn good job. It definitely has that Grant Turner style, which I love. As far as the tech. aspect goes, no complaints. Sound, lights, and set were minimal and did not distract from the show. I only say this because too often I feel as though content takes a back seat to glitz and glam. Only other Blue Monkey show I've seen was Romeo and Juliet. I personally think Antigone is a better production all around. Of course I don't like Romeo and Juliet so I'm biased. Congrats Blue Monkey players!

Anonymous said...

To answer the first anonymous poster; Well the show hasn't even opened yet and Antigone already has four postings!

Considering how much attention the two usually get individually, Grant Turner and Blue Monkey together should probably break all Followspot records.

Let the games begin!

Anonymous said...

Northwest Classical Theater meets Blue Monkey Theater? It's like a Followspot bloggers "Perfect Storm"!

Anonymous said...

"Teen actors' performances noticeably weaker than adults in cast"

Umm.. I haven't seen this show yet, but isn't that kind of to be expected? They haven't had the training that the adult actors have supposedly accumulated?

Anonymous said...

I've seen several shows where the performances of teen actors have outshined those of their adult colleagues.

Anonymous said...

In response to anonymous 2/04 9:45pm- so have I, but aren't those exceptions to the rule? I would expect a David Sikking to have more skill and stage presence than a teen-ager. To say so in a review is no help to the younger actress. Now I saw the show and happened to like her (and the others for that matter), but the review gives them no constructive information. What might they have done better, how did the adult performers "outshine" them. Feedback is important especially at the age.

Anonymous said...

Bit tough to give lots of feedback in a 50 word review, though...

Anonymous said...

Yeah 50 words isn't enough to give detailed analysis of everyone. I thought the teens, most notably Burgess as Antigone and the young woman who played Ismene were unconvincing and at times, oddly flat.

Creon though was excellent, and I could feel the director in the staging, etc.

Anonymous said...

this is the best thing i've seen from blue monkey yet. i agree that the teens are weaker than the adults and i don't know if that has anything to do with the quality of training that blue monkey offers or just lack of experience. either way it's still a very good show.

Anonymous said...

Sikking was amazing! I have to rave about his performance in this show. He brought the true character to the audience by wanting to save Antigone, but in the end, having to sacrafice her.

He was the best, as well as the most believeable. His speech was scattered and speedy, because that's what happens in real life. I will see as many of his shows as I can in the future.

I felt Tamera was all right. In the first act, she seemed flat and boring. Antigone should be somewhat impassioned throughout the piece, not just in the second act. Speaking of the second act, that's when she started working. Her face-off with Sikking picked up midway, and that scene is what made the show for me.

I was impressed with Nathan Daniels' and Tamera's stage attraction. Very believeable.

The show on the whole: eh. Some real standout acting performances, and some dissapointments.

Worth $10...not the $16 they charge.

Anonymous said...

David Sikking was so fantastic as Creon - I forgot I was watching a play. I also thought Prologue and the first guard were very good, and Haemon and Nana did well too. I was pleasantly surprised by this, as I read the script a couple of times and thought it was absolute crap, so well done.


Tamara's Antigone was not great. Not at all bad - there were a few moments where she did quite well, I thought - but she wasn't nearly skilled enough for something of this caliber. I think this is not entirely her fault; neither the production or the play are strong, and the burden of poorly written material is too much for an inexperienced actor. This Antigone comes off partly stilted, and partly as a whiny, reasonless teen...I really wasn't interested in her avoiding suicide, to tell the truth.

The part that really got to me was the horrible emptiness at the end which Creon created, and with which he is left. It was heartbreaking to watch him grasp that. And as I said, I give full credit for that to David, cause the playwright sure didn't help much.

Anonymous said...

I really have to wonder, how many of the authors of these posts, not to mention Michael McGregor's review in the Oregonian, have actually read the Sophocles version of Antigone.
Many of you are bothered by the fact that Antigone seems merely bratty and does that she doesn't seem like a true heroine. If you had actually read the original Greek tragedy, you'd know that it's no different in that version.
In Anouilh's play, Antigone appears reticent at Ismene's desire to join her after initially being afraid to help. However, Antigone ultimately accepts Ismene's desire and doesn't fight her joining her. Sophocles has Antigone refusing to let Ismene come, because it would ruin her death to have Ismene there. This shows that she is not in fact a true heroine, instead she is in it more for the glory. She at one point even says "Where could I win respect and praise more validly than this: burial of my brother?”.
There is no reason why she needs to be considered heroic or honorable, it is all up to viewer/reader interpretation. I see no reason why a production would be decreed as a failure simply because it allows the audience to make up their own mind about where they feel the blame rests.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I found the production to be as much Creon's tragedy as Antigone's if not more so, and, as such, found the show riveting. I don't think this was a faulty interpretation or that it reflected badly on the other actors. David Sikking's work as Creon is some of the finest acting to be seen on any Portland stage this season, and for young Miss Burgess to hold her own up there with him, as she does admirably for most of the second half, is a major accomplishment. I see no reason to condemn a show because one actor stands out above the rest however. There are many performances to admire here.

The conflict between youthful ideology and adult pragmatism had much more relevance to an audience of teenagers and parents than a play about ancient burial rights and the house of Thebes. Leave that to Keith Scales and the classic Greek Theater. This was a 20th Century play about contemporary themes and issues. I thought it was presumptuous of the Oregonian reviewer to critique seventy year old Anouilh's classic. It is not Sophocles nor was it intended to be. It is the same story used to address fresh ideas and so, for a local critic to spend most of his review belittling one of the greatest French poets and playwrights of the 20th century, simply because he would have preferred the company to produce the Sophocles' version, was pointless and stupid. I pity any future company foolish enough to produce such apparent second rate work as The Lark, Time Remembered or Thieves' Carnival.

This is a great chance to see a powerful, thought provoking, sharply produced and well acted play by a masterful playwright who is often studied but seldom produced. Don't miss it.

Anonymous said...

"Leave that to Keith Scales and the classic Greek Theater. This was a 20th Century play about contemporary themes and issues."

Hmmm . . . did you see "Peace" last October?

Anonymous said...

My comment was not meant to be a slam on either Keith Scales or his Classic Greek theater, but rather to say that they do Greek tragedy in the classical style very well and that if that's what you like, you should go see them. This "Antigone" is not the Sophocles version but is no less a classic being by Jean Anouilh.

And no, I'm afraid I didn't see "Peace" last fall but I am generally a fan of Keith's work.

Anonymous said...

"Hmmm . . . did you see "Peace" last October?"

Hmmm...I don't think anybody did. Fortunately, this is a thread about Antigone....

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I don't think anybody did. Fortunately, this is a thread about Antigone....

What a oddly snarky thing to say. The "Did you see PEACE comment was directly on topic and spoke to the point being made, while intimating that no one saw the production in an effort to, what? Demean the validity of the connection? The trouble with these Blue Monkey/NWCT comment fests is the endless, infantile arguing over what is right or fair and a lack of any kind of perspective or experience in theater or criticism.
No anonymous posting made it quieter but less irritating.

Anonymous said...

"The "Did you see PEACE comment was directly on topic and spoke to the point being made"

No, it wasn't. It was an attempt to divert the discussion to another production (one that came and went some time ago) that has nothing to do with this production. Different companies, different directors, different casts...even the original Greek playwrights are different. As I read it, Keith Scales was named-checked in the previous comment regarding the use of Ancient Greek themes because that is his company's specialty. It doesn't mean he's incapable of working beyond that (I think we all know that he can and does), but there is an implication that Blue Monkey cannot (something which I disagree with, incidentally, but that's beside the point...). The topic of discussion isn't whether or not Keith Scales can mount a contemporary-themed play; this is about Blue Monkey's "Antigone" and a discourse on ITS merits. As for allegedly snarky comments, get over it. There's nothing outright hostility in that comment, just a tone of irritation at someone's attempt to throw a big ol' tangent in the thread (FYI- "Peace" did have its own thread...).

"No anonymous posting made it quieter but less irritating."

Yeah, wouldn't it be great if we never had to hear anyone disagree with us EVER? Who needs diversity and dissent?

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is, this may be the best thing Blue Monkey has done and they still get ripped. Remember when we all dissed "Cinderella" because it lacked polish, and failed at it's attempt at spectacle? Well, here's a play that is polished and makes no attempt to dazzle with stage gimmicks and what happens? We diss this one too. Blue Monkey can't catch a break

Anonymous said...

anonymous 2/11/2008 12:19:00 PM
Wrong, sorry. Thanks for playing. Not taking shots at BM. Discussion of Greek tragedy and its performance in Portland would be a fair part of the comments of a production of Antigone. Your comments suggested that Peace was not viewed by enough people to be relevant, plus some paranoia that people are trying to diss BM by mentioning other productions. Not the case here. Your comment was disrespectful of CGTO and you were called on it.

Anonymous said...

What is it about shows at Blue Monkey that make everybody go crazy and act so juvenile? Have you all really even seen this production? I seriously doubt it. I understand houses have been pretty small.

I think more people have logged onto this blog than have actually seen the play and that's just insane. Why is what Blue Monkey does so important? It's just one small theater company, barely a year old, and it's not posturing itself to be the be all and end all of Portland Theater (like some other small theaters in this town)

Seems like people get really worked up over Blue Monkey shows and I'm not at all sure what the big deal is. Same goes for Northwest Classical; again, a small company that seems to take up more than it's share of followspot attention.

Why aren't there more posts about PCS? They are doing two shows including a Shakespeare and a world premiere, and we are having a lengthy discussion about some 16 year old girl who may or may not be a good Antigone and nit picking about Keith Scales who had nothing to do with this production at all.

Lets move on to a different show.

Frogger said...

Ummmm....if you want to post about a different showm, go ahead. No one is stopping you. There are oodles of threads to pick from.

Why should it bother you if people want to talk about this theatre? Apparantly people are interested in it. How does this harm you?

Anonymous said...

Okay, it looks like everybody’s been reading with insufficient care and responding precipitately, myself included. I took “Leave that to Keith Scales and Classic Greek” as a throwaway -- as in, that’s all they do, rather than, they do that better than anyone else in town. In raising “Peace” I did not intend to hijack the current “Antigone” thread onto a different show, but merely to observe that Classic Greek does not just do traditionally classical stagings. To assume I was throwing a “big ol’ tangent” into the thread and wanted actually to discuss “Peace” was incorrect, and to crack “I don’t think anyone” saw it was clearly snarky as well as simply untrue. What it means is “nobody in my small circle of friends saw it.” In fact, the Greek consul flew up from San Francisco to see it, and more to the point, hundreds of teenagers, from St. Mary’s Academy to eastern and southern Oregon schools, came to the show. CGTO, like Oregon Children’s Theater and NW Children’s and PAE’s Shakespeare-in-the-Parks and Blue Monkey and other companies that occasionally garner disparaging comments for “lack of professionalism” or irrelevance, are attracting the young audiences (and probably a few of the future actors) that will feed the rest of us someday, and probably more effectively, in terms of sheer numbers if nothing else, than PSC, ART, or any more respected theater in town. Finally, why are there not more comments on the current PSC productions? Ticket prices and lack of ushering opportunities for busy and not particularly wealthy Portland actors probably have something to do with that.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2/10/08 11:22 AM~

I have to agree. I will also have to agree with the Oregonian reviewer in criticizing Jean Anouilh's adaption just a bit. In general, I thought he did a fair job in changing the ancient play into modern (1950s) time. But one essential element which I felt was irretrievably lost was the ancient Greek sense of duty, honor, virtue, etc. Sophocles' play was based largely on this. If you take away that Greek understanding of needing to bury your brother, no matter how you or anyone else feels about him (simply, he is your brother), then you have taken away much of the weight of the character of Antigone and of the intensity of the entire play. It also makes Creon out to be a poor, wounded, hurt, torn hero. This is not what he is, and even in this adaption, I am shocked that any audience member could possibly think that he is a GOOD character. How can you say that Antigone is a "rebel" and a "brat" when she is in all actuality the heroine who is virtuous and right in what she does? Creon and Antigone have switched places from Sophocles' original intention. (and let me add, those people raving about David Sikking have truly confounded me--how anyone can think he is such a fantastic actor is beyond me...I think he is one of the least talented actors I have observed in a great while--but, I digress. I will try to keep my personal opinions to myself and simply state more historical, realistic ideas).

So, my point is, that if you praise Jean Anouilh's adaption and David Sikking's "heroic" portrayal (I didn't even think he accomplished that very well) of Creon, you have lost any real sense of the intentions of either Sophocles OR Jean Anouilh. And dash it all, shouldn't the main point of the play be ANTIGONE, regardless of who the writer or adapter putting her down on paper is? This play is all about HER character, HER integrity and position. I myself thought Tamara Burgess did a passable job of bringing Antigone to life. Her physical movements were a little shaky, but that is a small detail, of course. Her voice, her visage were meaningful and intense enough for me. And for crying out loud, didn't her lines themselves say enough about who she was? She said the most virtuous, honorable, true, HEROIC things! How can you turn it all around and say Creon was in the right and he didn't have any choice whether or not to execute her? Of COURSE he had a choice! She was his NIECE for goodness' sake! Regardless of whether or not you argue that she wanted to die, you still have to admit that his action was heartless and cruel, it was not a necessity for him to do such a thing to her. The part of the play that really hit me was when Haemon begged his father to save Antigone, and Creon was flat-out the most awful jerk I have ever encountered. There is not a touch of virtue in him! Nothing honorable at all! He's got evil in him, and I doubt if he had any good at all. How is that this character is believed to be so positive? I don't even think that the director (Mr. Turner) intended it to make Creon a hero. Perhaps he intended him to be more of a torn man than Sophocles or even Anouilh did, but to make him a hero and Antigone a total morbid brat? I think not.

Well, that's my two cents. Or three or four or twenty.

I would suggest that if you saw the show and do not know the Greek background, at least read Sophocles' original version and read about the culture at the time. Then read Anouilh's play again. And don't give Creon so much slack. Perhaps I'm the only one out there now, but I'm sick and tired of the bad guys being turned into heroes (like pirates, with all those Pirates of the Caribbean movies--I do not mean to start a thread of comments regarding those movies; please disregard my own negative opinion of them).