Antigone, Blake Theatre, Monmouth, 29th January 2014
Nigel Jarrett, South Wales Argus
Imagine Greek drama performed by The Three Stooges on speed and you’ll have some idea of what this production was like.
As the first member of the audience to enter the auditorium I was greeted by said Stooges as a survivor of a war. They’d obviously come through it triumphantly to judge by their red-nosed euphoria, funny hats and bendy balloons.
Naturally, I thanked them for their welcome and sat down with a full house of other ‘survivors’ - mostly school students and their teachers - to watch the accursed bunch of characters who inhabit Sophocles’ Antigone.
Not so much a bundle of laughs, more a bundle of horrors mitigated by laughter, Splendid Theatre’s view of what befalls the House of Thebes is a matchless way of introducing ancient theatre to the young.
Serious-faced episodes chronicling the story of royal succession, death and pretty much universal woe were interspersed by the oft-dreaded audience participation, in which we were asked to consider the issues raised by the drama and what we felt about the concepts of freedom, power and the like.
This audience actually dreaded nothing about taking part, including going mental when asked to enact ten seconds of freedom, itself a comment on the extended issue of responsibility. Well, what would you do with yours - go skinny-dipping in public at Porthcawl?
I’ve seen Splendid before. We were never told who they were and in their self-styled spirit of anonymity I didn’t bother to find out. But they formed a cracking trio, predicting bad Greek tidings with vaudevillian verve.