Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Strong idea, laboured dynamics

Sean Mathias’s, director of Antigone and co-writer with Myer Taub, sets the tragedy in a militaristic post-modern landscape, where Western, Arabic and African images fuse and dissolve, deferring any definite location. The screen above the stage broadcasts news, war imagery and trance-like dancing crowds.

The idea behind the project is strong. Sophocles’s classic is rearticulated in a context of terrorism, Aids and globalisation. Creon, played by John Kani, becomes a figure of totalitarianism and intransigence who labels Antigone, played by Hanle Barnard, a “terrorist” when she buries her dead brother against his dictates.

The figure of Creon is ambiguous in its allegory, but there seems to be tacit references to United States President Bush and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Mathias’s conception, however, fails somewhat in its execution, predominantly due to the disparate performances of the cast. While none of them are notably poor, and Kani provides a powerful presence, there seems to be an unease between the cast members regarding relating to the piece.

The dynamics become at times laboured, failing to build to an emotional intensity and lacking subtlety. The imaginative vision and innovation of Antigone needs to be articulated and naturalised through the performances for the work to fully achieve success.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon
Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon is a lecturer in anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand and a research associate of the Migration and Health Project Southern Africa.

Related stories


Subscribers only

‘W Cape, fix unplaced pupils crisis’

Civil rights organisations want the department to find a permanent solution to the problem

Shanduka shade over Free State education

Audit firm PwC said R500-million irregular expenditure incurred by the Free State education department is related to an unsolicited bid by the Kagiso Shanduka Trust to improve schools

More top stories

Even religion has limits on its rights

The constitution does protect faith — but not beyond what is reasonable

Covid kills a decade of employment growth in SA

The self-employed were nearly three times less likely to work during the hard lockdown, economists found

Ramaphosa faction dividing Limpopo — NEC hears

In a leaked recording during Saturday’s ANC national executive committee meeting, Mathabatha said he has observed ‘comrades who run around purporting to be the defenders of our president’.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…