Review: Antigone

Juliette Binoche in Antigone Pic: Jan Versweyveld
Juliette Binoche in Antigone Pic: Jan Versweyveld
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IT’S all about Binoche, ‘bout Binoche. Well isn’t it? By all the pre-publicity and the fact that French cinema siren Juliette Binoche is the face of this year’s International Festival, you’d be forgiven for thinking so.

* * * *

King’s Theatre, Leven Street

Obviously, playing the title role she can hardly be ignored, but the star of this show is unquestionably Patrick O’Kane as the despotic ruler of Thebes Kreon, who goes from authoritarian certainty to tortured self-doubt and ultimately destruction in the face of Antigone’s defiance.

As primarily a screen star, Binoche’s projection, even with amplification is weak at the outset and strengthens as the production builds to its climax, but only when she perches herself on the edge of the stage for a final soliloquy does she manage to truly grip the audience.

Maybe it’s the expectation, but there is something missing in the earlier scenes, and while this moment of intimacy might be playing on her undoubted star quality, the production is much the more memorable for it.

O’Kane, on the other hand, cuts a believably menacing figure in the opening sequences when his quietly-spoken, brutal, self-assurance is intact.

Finbar Lynch as the prophet Teiresias is effective as the leader of the chorus and the source of sage advice which Kreon repeatedly ignores, but Obi Abili steals the show with his understated, often comic Guard, charged by Kreon with finding out who has buried Antigone’s brother against his orders on pain of death. And at just short of two hours without an interval, without Abili it would certainly feel like it.

Until 22 August