We chatted to Adeola about making her stage debut as Antigone in Merlynn Tong’s adaptation, playing at the Mercury Theatre from the 1st October.

Hi Adeola – for those who aren’t familiar with the story of Antigone – could you explain what it is about? Antigone is the third part in a trilogy by Sophocles. Before the play begins, Antigone’s brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, have both died in battle, killing each other while leading opposing sides in the Theban civil war for the throne. The play starts with a declaration by Creon – Antigone’s aunt (a female in Merlynn’s adaptation) and new leader of Thebes – that Eteocles, as leader of the Theban army, will be buried honorably and Polynices will be shamed and left unburied. Antigone, disgusted by this ruling, takes it upon herself to bury her brother and the play tracks the fallout of her decision.

What made you want to be part of the production? The character of Antigone is so bold and defiant. There is a grief that drives her, but also an intense bravery and loyalty to family that I find inspiring. I think the conflict we see in the play between the personal and the state, the way that sweeping laws made by those in charge can adversely impact the individual, is a timeless a subject matter, but we also get to see the humanity of those making these seemingly sweeping decisions making it difficult to paint the “baddie”, which is always more interesting!

How do you feel about making your stage debut? I’m very excited to be taking on such big and dynamic role as my first one! The cast and creative team are excellent which makes it all the more special; I couldn’t have asked for a better project to step into the industry with.

What do you think that we can take away from the story today? Hopefully it leaves you with lots of questions. Grief is a massive part of the play and it definitely touches on the grief people may have felt throughout this pandemic as a result of not being able to bury their loved ones who have passed away, or witnessing protests
sparked off the back of the very public murder of George Floyd. These are all feelings that are very present in the play and we get to question the state vs the personal response. Also, having Creon as a female leader, we explore what it looks like for a woman to hold power and status in a patriarchal society and how they may have to bend to fit that bill.

How have preparations for the show been going so far? Rehearsals have been fast paced – lots of work up on our feet which I love, it throws you into the deep end but encourages you to discover your character quite quickly.

What can we expect from Merlynn Tong’s adaptation? An extremely precise and poetic story that packs a punch in a short amount of time!

By Emma Clarendon

Antigone will play at the Mercury Theatre from the 1st to the 16th October.