Thursday, 21 November 2013

Sophocles and The Brothers Grimm - Theatre Review, Glasgow, Nov. 2013

Antigone, Strathclyde Theatre Group, Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow

Guilty, Play a Pie and a Pint, Oran Mor, Glasgow


I have been off work this week and am meant to be doing Christmas shopping. Fortunately there has been plenty of stuff on in Glasgow to let me avoid doing much of that. So pretending I was researching for our holiday in Greece next year I went to Cottiers Theatre, where Strathclyde Theatre Group are performing Sophocles classic play, Antigone. STG are a community theatre group/ amateur dramatics society that has been on the go for 40 years, and certainly has an ambitious programme, heavily flavoured with classics that appeal to people wanting to see a play from their exam syllabus, from Arthur Millar to Shakespeare. They lost their usual home in Strathclyde University last year when they had to move on from the Ramshorn Theatre there and seem to be regulars in Cottiers now. One advantage am-dram can have over professional theatre is in being able to call upon enough willing volunteers to fill every part in a large cast, or a Greek chorus.

As well as seeing this as research for trip to Thebes in the summer, I was also interested in seeing the play, as when I was assistant stage manager at our secondary school drama club, for some bizarre reason Antigone was one of the plays we did, with Rosemary from my year in the lead role.


Knightswood Secondary School does Antigone

Antigone is set in Thebes, the greatest city state in Ancient Greece before Alexander the Great conquered the land and destroyed the city. Thebes was also the mythical setting for stories of Dionysus, Heracles and Oedipus. The two brothers of Antigone, daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, have died on the battlefield on opposing sides. King Creon has proclaimed that one shall be mourned as a hero, the body of the other to be left on the battlefield, as carrion, disgraced. Antigone refuses to accept this, disobeys the king and buries him herself. She is caught and sentenced to death. Creon's stubborn pride leads to tragedy for his family, punished by the gods he displeased. This production seemed to be set it in the middle east or Egypt going by the the costumes and music, which jarred a bit for a Grecophile like me. Christian Zanone, as the sentry who discovered Antigone, put on a fine turn, and Creon was suitably proud, stubborn and chastened. The blind prophet Tiresius was kind of played as a transsexual, but on reading up on it later I see that Hera turned Tiresius into a woman for 7 years, so that's that explained. Anyway I enjoyed the story, if a few mumbled lines made it hard to work out exactly why Creon and his son suddenly fell out and how Antigone and Haemon met their end exactly. As tragedies go, Antigone is pretty tragic, and my sympathies lay with the heroine rather than the foolish king. The moral for him is to learn from his mistakes.

My son did the Wizard of Oz in his school's drama club last year. Obviously when I was at school in the 80s drama teachers were a bit more ambitious.

From a cast of sixteen to a cast of two as Lesley Hart and Louise Ludgate take their turn doing a lunchtime play for Oran Mor's flourishing A Play, A Pie and A Pint. This was another co-production with Aberdeen's Lemon Tree Theatre and will be on up there next week. Detective Black is questioning Blanca, who has recently left home to lodge with some geology students, about her missing step-mother. Lousie Ludgate in her lovely north-eastern dialect is stroppy, bullying and just a wee bit scary. As my kids for years have delighted in reading the grim endings of the original versions of well-known fairy tales, I could see what way the story was going but it was good fun watching it get there and a full house of Glasgow's west-end, lunchtime pie munchers was chortling away throughout (quiche is also available though tastes rubbish with gravy or brown sauce I imagine). The jousting of two fine actors, a pie and a pint of Guinness - a bargain at £8 on a Wednesday.

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