Scottish Dance Theatre’s production Antigone, Interrupted is a marathon display of dedication from its solo performer. Conceived, directed and choreographed by the SDA’s Artistic Director Joan Clevillé and starring Solène Weinachter, this production is all about perspectival shifts and who is looking at whom.
The first surprise that this show delivers is the stage set-up. The audience must pass by the traditional tiered seating and take their seats instead in a large oval facing each other. Illuminated archways lie at either end of the oval. This all suggests that this show will not exactly be a standard theatrical experience.
The story of Antigone originates in Ancient Greek tragedy. Antigone is the teenage daughter of king Oedipus, who blinds himself and dies after finding out he has married his mother. The heirs, Antigone’s brothers, both fall out and kill each other. The new king, Antigone’s uncle Creon, refuses to bury Antigone’s brother, so Antigone plots with her sister to defy Creon and bury her brother.
Weinachter’s performance takes place in the centre of the oval, with the surrounding audience intently watching her from every vantage point. Towards the close, she starts addressing audience members directly, inverting the oval: now Weinachter is looking at the audience. Such perspectival shifts also manifest in the different ways the story is told. Weinachter jumps between playing Antigone, the other characters such as Creon and the chorus, and acting as a modern viewer spectating the performance from the outside. Sometimes the character switches are rather rapid and difficult to keep track of, but Weinachter’s performance is nonetheless dedicated.
The production also contains a healthy dose of self-awareness: one highly theatrical moment is cut short by Weinachter saying “you get the idea”. This, along with the optional audience breathing exercise in the middle of the performance, refreshes the audience for the remainder of this highly conceptual performance.
The sound design takes on a three-dimensional quality via speakers dotted around the empty spaces behind the audience. Alongside Antigone, Weinachter takes on the other roles via voice modulation techniques with a microphone. Particularly striking is the effect of the ‘chorus’, literally created by her initiating a chorus effect on a pad connected to the microphone. The microphone is also used to create a fitting crescendo at the close of the performance, with Wienachter building up layers of her own ethereal vocals, looping them and then re-entering the centre of the oval for the final moment.
However, this sound production might have been more smoothly executed, as Weinachter has to discreetly change the microphone settings herself on-stage. While she does this very professionally, a little creativity in the sound booth would make this conceptually important element of the production more seamless.
Similarly, the lighting could be a little more ambitious, to make up for the minimalist stage set-up. While Weinachter’s performance is rightly the focus, a little more thought into how it might be appropriately accompanied by the tech would be welcome.
Overall, the surrounding production could be more seamless and inventive, given the highly conceptual nature of the production in general, but the strongest element of Antigone, Interrupted is Weinachter’s performance itself.
Antigone, Interrupted ran at Traverse 1 between 20-22 February 2020 as part of its nationwide tour.
Featured image credit: Maria Falconer