What’s On: Antigone (Queensland Theatre)

Jessica Tovey and Christen O’Leary, photographed by Tim Jones Photography.


26 October – 16 November 2019

Bille Brown Theatre

Queensland Theatre’s 2019 season finale is a compelling adaptation of Antigone by Merlynn Tong after Sophocles – a Greek tragedy about a young female citizen standing up for her values in the face of fierce criticism, speaking her truth to power.

In the aftermath of war, two brothers lay slain – one hailed as a hero, and the other condemned as a traitor, dumped in a carrion pile. Their sister Antigone challenges the ruthless new leader, Creon, for the right to mourn and bury her brothers equally, but this rebellion will shake the city to its foundations.

Although Antigone was written by Sophocles almost 2,500 years ago, playwright Merlynn Tong believes the tale resonates with modern audiences.

“I have tried to create a version of Antigone that pays tribute to the beautiful poetic language of the original, whilst pulling in sentiments from our present day. We don’t have a chorus as such, but we do still share the odes in a heightened fashion. My version of the play also satiates some long-standing curiosities that I’ve nursed. For example: Why does Ismene never return to the story? Can she have another role to play besides that of a fearful ‘sister’? What is Antigone and Haemon’s relationship like? Also, last but not least, Creon will be played by a woman, the powerhouse that is Christen O’Leary. This is exciting for me as I get to explore the patriarchy as embodied by a woman; a comment that patriarchy is not dead, rather, it has morphed and taken on a different flavour since the original play was written.”

Director Travis Dowling said, “Merlynn Tong’s play is as heartfelt as it is epic. I expect audiences to feel overwhelmed by the bigness of this epic and everlasting story, and to question why we are still having debates like this in our modern world.”

The show reunites powerhouse actors, Logie award-nominee Jessica Tovey in the title role with multi award-winner Christen O’Leary as Antigone’s adversary Creon, and Kevin Spink as her ill-fated fiancé, Haemon. All three were last seen on stage together in Queensland Theatre’s Twelfth Night (2018). Led by Travis Dowling, in his Queensland Theatre mainstage directorial debut, Antigone also stars Queensland Theatre stalwart Penny Everingham as the prophet Tiresias with haunting songs performed by Queensland Conservatorium graduate Shubshri Kandiah (as Antigone’s sister, Ismene) fresh off the back of her 18-month stint as Jasmine in Aladdin – The Musical.

For ticketing and further information, visit the Queensland Theatre website.

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