I have always been a fan of the Greek tragedies and Antigone is one of my favorites. When I heard that the Marvell Repertory Theatre would be showing a production of Sophocles’ famous play, I was very excited. Unfortunately, it did not take long before I was wondering when the show would be over.
Bonnie Fraser plays the lead, Antigone, as well as Tiresias the blind prophet, Haemon son of Creon, and Eurydice wife of Creon and mother to Haemon. Ms. Fraser is a strong actress and I can definitely see her on Broadway one day. She has a very powerful presence and commands the stage. But I think performing so many parts stretches her talent a bit, as she has so many lines throughout the play. KC Wright, who plays Antigone’s sister Ismene as well as the Sentry, Young Boy, and Messenger, is also strong and does well in her debut.
But the gentlemen of this production are not as strong as their female counterparts. Kevin Gilmartin, who plays Creon, is too gentlemanly for his role. Creon is a proud, stubborn king whose word is law. Mr. Gilmartin is not convincing as the forceful king until the end of the play. As the Chorus, Geddeth Smith and Peter Judd are stiff and frequently forgot their lines, which was a disappointment. I have seen both men in other productions and loved their performances. I truly believe Messrs. Smith and Judd were miscast in these roles.
The costumes are also a disappointment. In a small production like this, I did not expect to see extravagant costumes like one might expect in larger stage plays. But I did expect something leaning more towards ancient Greece rather than today’s fashion. Maybe it’s to make it easier for Fraser and Wright to change characters quickly, but it just does not work for me. The theatre is very small and intimate, which I think is a great environment to present plays like Antigone. The audience gets a more personal feel for the characters and the actors do not have to scream their heads off to be heard.
Marvell Rep’s Antigone, for all of its faults, could turn into something great with a bit of tweaking. Seeing actors playing more than one part is a great idea and one I think audiences would embrace, but only if it is done right. I hope that after its original run, the production team will consider making some changes and present Antigone once again.
Antigoneis playing at the Marvell Repertory Theatre until June 2. The theatre is located at 312 West 36th Street, New York, NY.
Photos courtesy of Heller Highwater LLC