An Appreciation of THE ANTIGONE PLAY

by Lynn on November 25, 2020

in The Passionate Playgoer

Part of the streaming on-line 2020-21 Theatre@York Season.

Streamed from York University, Toronto.

The Antigone Play by Tabia Lau and Directed by David Jansen.

From the press information: “The Antigone Play  is a contemporary adaptation of Sophocles’ ANTIGONE. Tig is distraught to find that her Uncle Chris is making drastic changes to her family’s restaurant, which her beloved grandmother opened years ago as a recent immigrant and refugee. Outraged by what she sees as a betrayal of the family, Tig starts an online campaign to stand up to her uncle, save the legacy of the restaurant, and restore her family’s honour. As the campaign catches fire, Tig considers just how far she must go.”

In Sophocles’ version of his play Antigone is fighting to honour one of her brothers by burying him against her uncle’s decree.

Tabia Lau, a PhD candidate in Theatre & Performance Studies at York University, imagines Antigone’s story as one for our time. There is reference to the power of the internet for transmitting information, both correct and misleading, for its addictive, seductive power to engage and hold its audience, and often how shallow its followers can be—(the quickness in clicking “like”, “share” and “send” even before a person has read a message or seen a video).

Lau also examines the important ideas of respect for tradition, family honour, gentrification, money-laundering, food, character and legacy. There is a fascinating conversation by a panel of characters talking about fusion food. Lau has Antigone’s Uncle Chris wanting to take his late mother’s traditional recipes and ‘fuse’ them with other cultures to attract a larger base. The panel sees nothing wrong with this. Antigone (and those who respect and know food) see a deep tear in the fabric of tradition and appropriation.

Lau has such a compelling voice and vision in taking this mythic Greek story and applying it to our modern world. She has a dandy sense of dialogue. In one case a character says of his late grandmother: “I still see her face when I smell paprika.” Gorgeous and vivid. There is also a tip of the hat to Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard I thought regarding a beloved heirloom of a quilt and what the uncle planned on doing with it. I loved that Lau makes her audience feel smart when they recognize her clever clues. I so look forward to seeing more of Tabia Lau’s work.  

Director David Jansen wrote before the streaming that they wanted to find a way to present it so that it was not just a group of squares with people talking. The imagination, the use of animation, multiple images and other techniques as background and the use of sound and music certainly accomplished  this. The actors are students so it’s unfair to call this a “review.” Suffice it to say, they are committed, compelling, emotional and bring the viewer right into that world.

Looking forward to Hags by Aaron Jan tomorrow also part of the Theatre@York season.


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