Apr. 19th, 2013

liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
So my dad's best friend from university, who has known me all my life and is pretty much an aunt to me, has a real passion for amateur theatre. This season she's directing Sophocles' Antigone, in a translation by another member of that set who is now a classics professor. I really wanted to see this production, but I have no free weekends and getting to London for a weekday evening is a bit impractical. But then it turned out that I needed to be at a one-day conference in London today, and there's no sensible way to get to London without travelling up the night before, so all of a sudden I was going to be in London during the run.

A bit at the last minute, I invited [personal profile] khalinche to join me, and as I'd hoped she was actually free for a spontaneous theatre visit. And it was a really cool production, I'm very glad I went. Amazingly [personal profile] khalinche didn't know the play or the underlying myth at all, just imagine coming to Sophocles completely fresh! I haven't studied Antigone specifically, but I do know a bit about Greek theatre in general and my head is full of every kind of interpretation from Freudian analysis to Anouilh's version. I suspect my case is more typical of the kind of people who go to see Antigone in small amateur theatres.

I found the interpretation extremely successful; the play was done pretty straight, but reasonably naturalistic, without a pedantic emphasis on Authenticity. The costumes were sort of vaguely twentieth century with a Greek flavour, rather than being set in a particular period. The translation was poetic but not forsoothly, all the lines sounded completely natural, though in a formal register which I think works better for the play than a very colloquial translation. I particularly liked what my not-aunt did with the chorus; she had just four actors, speaking most of the lines in unison but with naturalistic acting, and occasionally breaking out to give a particular line or section solo. You really got the sense that the chorus was the voice of the narrative and a human group of Theban elders at the same time. Antigone tended slightly hysterical, though to be fair most of her lines are basically about how wretched she is and everything is terrible. Adam Sutcliffe's Creon was seriously impressive, you could absolutely believe him as a tyrant. He managed just the right combination of imposing with ultimately weak, really superlative acting. I've seen considerably weaker pro productions, and I'm not just saying that because of the family connection!

It was a wonderful evening in general. I felt a bit guilty about dragging [personal profile] khalinche all the way out to Ealing, but it was such a glorious spring evening that walking through the suburb with a friend was pure pleasure. And my not-aunt, in spite of the usual ration of directorial panic, was able to come and sit with us and invite us for a drink in the theatre bar after the show, along with some other friends from university and some of their children as well as me. I really hope my crowd will be like that in 30 years' time, still hanging out together and talking about anything and everything. Even travelling alllll the way across London to get back to [personal profile] khalinche's place was a treat, because it gave us such a good opportunity for conversation.

The conference was not as good a networking opportunity as I'd hoped, partly because all the sessions overran so we didn't actually have any mingling time, and partly because I had to leave ludicrously early because the last off-peak train is before 3 pm. Also because I was a bit silly and spent the only free ten minutes I had getting into conversation with people who work for British American Tobacco (I have a family connection with them too, you see), and they are utterly useless for networking because all cancer funders forbid their scientists to have anything to do with tobacco companies. But still interesting and fun; there was a very cute talk about using a slime mould based model for predicting which compounds are going to be too disgusting-tasting to be usable. Possibly only [personal profile] pseudomonas and [personal profile] coalescent will get why I find Dictyostelium endearing, but you know.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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