The opening scene of Polly Findlay’s staging of Antigone sees Creon gathered round a screen with his minions including his wife, a shoe-in for Hillary Clinton, as they watch the end of civil war, the death of two brothers and the affirmation of Creon’s reign. It takes place in the centre of Soutra Gilmour’s ’70s inspired set which gives the cast Nixon-era offices in which to drip and gush a Watergate-like flow of information, secrets and arguments about right and wrong.
A Greek tragedy in this world is inspired. It gets us thinking differently about nepotism, loyalty, family, monarchy and arbitrary notions of justice and morality. As Jodie Whittaker’s Antigone grows increasingly determined to bury the body of her rebellious brother Polyneices who Creon has called a traitor, she challenges the state, her uncle and her future father in-law, all wrapped up in Christopher Eccleston’s Creon. Through these two characters, Sophocles, Polly, Christopher and Jodie join up seamlessly to present something both slick and yet unavoidably messy.
But then Teiresias turns up and he ruins everything. This prophetic figure is supposed to remind the head of state of fear the gods but in the world created by designer and director in the opening scene, where exactly do the gods feature? Who is Eccleston’s Creon accountable to? Because at no stage is it believable that a character in this world of glass, concrete and ruthless espionage would give two hoots about the gods. Cut Teiresias, who becomes a huge plot flaw in this version, and you have a hell of a show. But with this character taking such a crucial role, this take on Antigone stops making sense.
Image: CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON as Creon and JAMIE BALLARD as Teiresias
by Johan Persson