Two Australian Cypriots Elena Carapetis and Anthony Nicola, present Antigone theatrical

Two Australian Cypriots, playwright Elena Carapetis and director Anthony Nicola, bring the first heroine of western drama raging into the 21st century with a twisted and subverted take on Sophocles’ Antigone, premiering in South Australia this month.

Elena Carapetis an Australian Cypriot her mother is Cypriot is well known for her role as Jackie Kassis at Heartbreak TV Soap in Australia.

Anthony Nicola is a Australian Cypriot theatre director, Flinders Drama Centre graduate and the Resident Director at State Theatre Company South Australia.

The downfall of the House of Laius has become a fundamental narrative in the Western canon. The story of Oedipus’s daughter Antigone has been adapted by such luminaries as Jean Anouilh and Seamus Heaney.

State Theatre Company is now presenting a modern, if not exactly adaptation, then response to, Antigone.

Writer Elena Carapetis has taken the basic Sophocles version and used it as a jumping-off point for various scenes and monologues about the state of the world today, particularly for women. An interesting and honourable idea, and State Theatre should be applauded for supporting this type of new work. However, 90 minutes is not long enough to jam in every topic that was covered. From a play about a woman defying the state in honour of the gods, Carapetis has developed a theatrical excoriation of guns, climate change, Donald Trump, sexual harassment, and Tony Abbott. Aside from it feeling like shooting fish in a barrel, it is simply too much. In narrative terms it is like a live version of scrolling through social media. There is no through-line, or even a solid theme to cling to. However, there are some lovely moments of writing, such as the monologue about Carapetis’s own relationship with the Church she grew up in. This could have been expanded to really engage in dialogue with the Ancient Antigone and her relationship with her gods. A missed opportunity.

There is some solid ensemble work in evidence on stage. Mark Saturno delivers his usual strong and measured performance. Kathryn Adams takes on a variety of roles, including some smashing singing as a post-modern Disney princess. A stronger hand from director Anthony Nicola would have brought more out of her. Kidaan Zelleke is clearly a passionate actor, but spent most of her time shouting and stomping. A dial-back from Nicola would have helped her find more authenticity. Chiara Gabrielli was outstanding, delivering both dramatic depth, and pitch-perfect comedy.

When: Until 11 June

Where: Odeon Theatre, Norwood, South Australia

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