Antigone na h’Éireann

Aug 10 2018 | By More

★★★☆☆       Intriguing modernisation

Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29): Fri 3–Sun 26 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

Antigone na h’Éireann, by Aulos Productions at Paradise in the Vault, is a reworking of Greek tragedy that has some odd transitions in mood, but hangs together impressively.

Writer and director James Beagon’s updating of Sophocles is set in the near future, after Brexit has restored a hard border to the Irish mainland. The main characters are a family who are seeking to revive republican terrorism.

Antigone na h’Éireann Aulos Productions EdFringe 2018 Thomas Mugglestone, Les Fulton and Serena Doran. Pic Aliza Hoover at Ummatiddle

Thomas Mugglestone, Les Fulton and Serena Doran. Pic Aliza Hoover at Ummatiddle

There are those who would find this a touchy subject, but the very least you can expect from Aulos Productions (other than that each production will be refreshingly different from the last) is that the topic will be treated with due care and thought.

At first it seems that the main connection with Sophocles will be in some clever reworking of the names, but eventually the plot and concerns of Antigone do come to the fore – although not necessarily in ways you would expect.

This is just one of several examples of clever misdirection that retain considerable interest in the narrative. The plot owes more to the traditions of modern thrillers than the inevitable unfolding of Greek tragedy, but other elements of the earlier tradition are on display, such as the striking use of masks.

The sudden lurches of the plot can give the production a raw, almost unfinished feeling, but it is held together by Jenny Quinn’s focused central portrayal of Annie. Emer Conway and Serena Doran are impressive as Annie’s sister Izzy and the mysterious Erin.

suitably forbidding

Charlie Angelo and Peter Morrison, as Annie’s brothers, are particularly good in early scenes where the infighting and nitpicking of revolutionary movements is dissected in a manner reminiscent of The Life of Brian.

Les Fulton, as the play’s Creon figure, is suitably forbidding, while Thomas Mugglestone gives his son a puppyish believability.

The lurches from comedy to serious drama do threaten to derail proceedings, but the momentum and integrity of the piece are largely maintained. The more mannered sections, such as the mask work, in many ways have the most impact, featuring an atmosphere of foreboding that is very striking.

While this does not quite achieve the resonance of its source, it is a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece.

Running time 1 hour 10 minutes (no interval)
Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29), 11 Merchant St, EH1 2QD
Friday 3 – Sunday 26 August 2018
Daily (not Sun 12, 19) at 6.00 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website:
Company website:
Facebook: @aulosproductions
Twitter: @AulosProduction


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