We take a closer look at what critics have had to say about Inua Ellams’ adaptation of the Sophocles tragedy…  

(c)Helen Murray

WhatsOnStage: ** “Co directors Jo Tyabji and Max Webster’s production is most effective in the way in which the chorus (accentuated with music by Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and some clever choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille) demonstrates how quickly and uncontrollably public opinion can vacillate.”

Evening Standard: *** “There is something refreshing about seeing these issues – the human consequence of inhumane policies – tackled on stage in such a direct way as well as seeing Muslim prayer and ritual presented with reverence and care, but at the same time there’s a lack of subtlety to Ellams’ approach which ultimately undermines the play’s power.”

West End Best Friend: ***** “The material is urgent, necessary and thrives in its messaging. All aspects of the production fuel the fire that is this company’s spirit and desire for change. Ellams possesses a talent for charging every single word spoken; there’s a purpose to everything while still remaining accessible to those who may not be as politically minded. The complex story is made easy enough to understand by Ellams’ interpretation.”

The Guardian: *** “Directed by Max Webster and Jo Tyabji, this is an incredibly dynamic production with a youthful energy, a striking lead in Zainab Hasan, and plenty of wow in its stagecraft. Its script is not perfect and not every main character is fully-fleshed, but the production finds its power in music and big theatre optics.”

Time Out: *** “There are bolts of brilliance in Inua Ellams’ twenty-first-century rewrite of Sophocles’s ‘Antigone’. He makes a play written two-and-a half-millennia ago speak more directly to the present day than pretty much anything else I’ve seen this year, offering stark takedowns of Islamophobia, the closure of youth centres, and the way that right-wing minority politicians abandon their communities. And he also creates something intermittently beautiful, celebrating Muslim spirituality in a way that mainstream culture rarely does. So it’s frustrating that among these successes, the play slightly loses sight of the person it all centres on.”

The Stage: *** “Inua Ellams reimagines the Greek classic in a contemporary setting filled with political relevance.”

Broadway World: ***** “Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre have empowered an elite creative team, who have crafted an ancient text into a dichotomy of expansive environment and pointed commentary. This production is a marathon confrontation of systemic racism, white power, and gender imbalance as modern pillars of privilege that actively silence those mourning the loss of their cultural history.”

All That Dazzles: ***** “The production value of Antigone more than matches the genius level that is set by their cast. Truly incredible direction from Max Webster and Jo Tyabji along with stunning choreography from Carrie-Anne Ingrouille makes this truly remarkable to watch.”

London Theatre1: **** “An engaging play, I felt invested in the story from start to finish. Okay, there are bits evidently put in to maximise dramatic effect (alas, it would be giving too much away to give examples), occasionally at the expense of going for the most feasible or plausible courses of actions, but even this is difficult to put down as a negative aspect, particularly as the play and this production of it does what they are designed to do, holding the audience’s attention throughout.”

The Telegraph: **** “Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is mounting the first Greek tragedy in its history – the timing is disconcerting, but the staging’s excellent.”

The Times: ** “Inua Ellams’s attempt to marry Sophocles with 21st-century British politics paints a jarringly unconvincing portrait of an opportunistic Asian politician using anti-immigrant sentiment to climb the greasy pole to 10 Downing Street.”

The Upcoming: **** “Words and movements are the driving force of this production of Antigone, making it an enrapturing tale for today’s world.”

London Theatre.co.uk: *** ” The play balances order against chaos and the individual against the state, and Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography brings a propulsive “street” feel to what in other hands, and contexts, could seem static. It’s a shame, then, when the rhetoric devolves into bald-faced placard-waving, no matter how laudable the sentiments expressed.”

British Theatre Guide: “The play is lively, confidently performed and entertaining, but lacks depth in its depiction of the characters and the important social issues that are supposedly at stake.”

Antigone continues to play at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until the 24th September.


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