Now in its fifth season, The Filigree Theatre opens with Antigone, under the direction of Elizabeth V. Newman.
By Haley Noble, Photos courtesy of The Filigree Theatre
The Filigree Theatre debuted Sophocles’ Antigone on Friday, Oct. 13 at the Factory on Fifth Avenue in Austin, kicking off Filigree’s fifth anniversary season. Directed by Elizabeth V. Newman, Antigone tells the story of a young girl living in the aftermath of a war in the city of Thebes. She attempts to bury her own brother, in defiance of the king’s command. This production of Antigone, adapted by David Rush, awoke themes of family loyalties, betrayal and the idea that “all wars are the same.”
Factory on Fifth made for an intimate venue, providing an open floor plan that actors and set designers could make great use of. The room allowed actors to be up close and personal with audience members, even walking down the aisles. It also allowed for freedom in the set, with tall golden arches above an altar as the central focal point and surrounding chairs, benches and barrels. Though Antigone is originally set in ancient Greece, the set itself alluded to where Newman and her team wanted the story to take place.
“I worked with the design team to create a world that was a nod to ancient Greece,” Newman explains. “We placed it in a universe that has hints of different eras, but is not set in a particular time or place, because this story is so universal.”
Costumes were also created with no particular time setting in mind, but is effectively neutral. It shows the audience the story truly could take place anywhere, anytime. Live cellist Johann Mahler provides music throughout the production and creates Antigone‘s eerie atmosphere.
Greek tragedies often end with just that—tragedy. Filigree’s production leaves audiences with a silver lining of belief in the future.
“It’s a classically Greek story, in that you could argue about who’s right and who’s wrong,” Newman says. “But we are given this little grace note at the end. There is a moment of hope and forgiveness and looking to the future. It doesn’t just leave us in the aftermath of the horror and bloodshed.”
Julia Benett shines as Antigone, giving a performance that is not only emotional but hopeful, providing a protagonist the audience wants to cheer on. Playing her sister, Ismene, is Courtney DeBerry, who has an exceptional stage presence playing opposite Antigone. She provides a great portrait of a worried sister and serves as an eerie warning for what’s to come.
King of Thebes, Creon, and his wife, queen of Thebes, Eurydice, are played by the talented Beau Paul and Martinique Duchene-Philips, respectively. Paul gives a phenomenal portrayal of Creon, able to master becoming a powerful king, and concerned husband and father in one performance. Duchene-Philips gives a haunting performance of a worry-stricken mother for the protection of their son. Both give us a great glimpse of their spousal relationship, providing much insight into a different side of their characters.
Bailey Ellis plays Haemon, prince of Thebes and son of Creon and Eurydice. Ellis gives an amazing portrayal of a young prince navigating how to do the right thing. Josh Kok and Mike Ooi provide audiences with some comedic relief with their portrayals of Creon’s scribe and Klemos, respectively. Ooi also serves as fight choreographer and does a fine job in creating realistic action scenes. All cast members play the chorus, who serve as narrators and move the story along.
Newman’s vision and direction, along with the dedication and work of the cast and crew, made Antigone an exciting production visually and emotionally. A clear storyline makes it easy for anyone to understand, whether well-versed in Greek tragedies or new to them. It provided audiences with laughs, emotions and an overall beacon of hope for the future, relevant to the world we live in today.
To see other productions Filigree Thetare has upcoming for their fifth season, visit filigreetheatre.com.