Fightin' words

By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  October 2, 2008

Fine support is given by Phyllis Kay as Creon’s wife, Eurydice, and by Stephen Berenson as Alcebaides, the king’s chief minister, who early on is adamant that Creon not weaken his grip on authority by pardoning Antigone. As soon as the populace take to the streets in angry support of Antigone, the advisor abruptly reverses his Cheney-esque fixation; simultaneously, Creon furiously reverses his gentle patience with his niece, when she tests him one too many times. I was never more impressed with the writing of this play than when that double change of heart immediately seemed inevitable — that can’t happen without skillful prior character development.

Most collaborative director/playwrights, with the prominent exception of Moises Kaufman, who wrote The Laramie Project with the Tectonic Theater Project, take sole credit regardless of rehearsal hall contributions. Thanks in the program’s Director’s Notes is usually all that actors get for crucial lines they provide or change and characters they develop after the initial rough playscript is done. Columbus’s invitation to company members to change and add lines in developing their characters, as well as to clarify the concerns of the chorus, was a rare act of humility. So too was his passing on the reins of the project to director McEleney, whose imaginative direction compels our attention. Clearly, the work itself was the most important focus for Columbus in the rehearsal hall, a place where directors are not usually known to keep their egos in check.

The thrust of this play in just about every scene is to make us think. We are asked to examine the frailty of motivation, the tentativeness of hotly arrived-at positions, and the shaky reliability of coldly considered decisions by even the best and brightest among us. The chorus challenges us to ask questions: What is a hero? What is our duty? The Trinity ensemble attempts to provide answers, and instructs us, only in the sense that Socrates accomplished that by his incessant questioning two dozen centuries ago.  

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