Thursday, November 1, 2012


I was greatly inspired after seeing TheatreLAB’s The Antigone Project at Gallery 5 on Tuesday night. It was touted as a Devised Adaptation, which at the talkback I learned translates into “they wrote their own dialogue.” I write my own dialogue all the time, but I tend to call it “talking” instead of a “devised adaptation.” Potato. Potahto.

Truly, I’m happy they made up their own dialogue, because had they done the show in the original Greek, I fear too many people would have left the theater making the “It’s Greek to me!” joke. Now, I’m sure this joke was funny when some toga-clad Athenian made it in the olden days, but the luster is off that horse’s mouth, if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, may I suggest Sheckie’s Laugh Hut on Main Street. Not that I’ve ever been there, but order the onion rings.

The show appeared to get a lot of inspiration from media and celebrity and involved a seizure-inducing video montage of lots of famous people and the Lucky Charms leprachaun. Interestingly, I saw no pictures of myself, but perhaps I missed them during my grand mal episode in the second act. In any event, I was in the actual audience, so my fame became a sort of meta-device in the production. Had I realized, I would have worn a toga to honor Sophocles. Honestly, how an ancient Mediterranean foresaw my meteoric rise and wrote me into his classic play, I do not know, but then again, I was pretty sure Whitney Houston wouldn’t make it to 60, so perhaps the future is not as unknowable as one might think.

Back to the show. Antigone was costumed as a heroin-addict polar bear. I wasn’t quite sure of the symbolism involved, but my guess is that it had something to do with the arctic nature of modern interaction. Lost innocence is also always a good bet when trying to figure out symbolism. And generally, if symbolism is afoot, one can find a Christ figure, usually with the initials JC (for example, Julius Caesar). Many of the characters in The Antigone Project were unnamed, but I am quite certain one or more of the actors dressed in black was likely named Jacqueline Carrington, or something similar. Don’t quote me, but I feel quite secure with my guess.

The play really got exciting when Antigone was jailed by Creon for burying her brother. Now, one would think Creon would be thrilled that he didn’t have to pay sanitation workers and could use that money for a private jet, but apparently one would be wrong. Given that, in Creon’s kingdom, the dead have to rot in the streets, I can only surmise that Creon made his money in the perfume or perhaps Fabreze industry. He certainly looked as though he smelled nice, although it is hard to understand why a Fabreze executive would be a death penalty advocate. Fewer customers is always a bad thing, as any successful businessman will tell you.

I should also mention that the set consisted of newspapers taped to the floor in a sort of homage to a gerbil cage. And, in fact, in the opening sequence, many of the Jacqueline characters marched purposefully around the papers as though they were “caged.” It was a nice touch, although I think one of those wheels would have added depth of field.

There certainly was a lot going on in this production. I am not sure I recall another production that I’ve ever seen incorporating Jesus, gerbils, polar bears, and Fabreze quite so evocatively. Well, Harvey Fierstein’s A Catered Affair came close, but its treatment of gerbils was too mundane for my taste. Kudos to TheatreLAB, Sophocles, and myself.