From the Archive 20.05.1960

10th February 2012 at 00:00

Brave attempt at Sophocles

The odds are very heavy against a girls' school when it tackles a production of ancient Greek drama. It is not so much a matter of beards as of voices. Harrogate College may be considered to have come well through their ordeal by Sophocles in last week's production of his Antigone.

Decor, at least, was excellent. Lighting equipment, it proved as the play went on, would have been adaptable enough to pick out the face of the speaker of the prologue that introduced the production. To begin with a voice and dim shape is to start with a tantalised audience.

Mr E.F. Watling's translation, which was used, is in parts aggressively modern, occasionally to the point of banality, with lines like "What do you think?"

This could instigate producer and cast to give the text as naturalistic a ring as possible and to eschew all avoidable heroics, but the only character interpreted naturalistically was Ismene. The other roles were given as much of the grand manner as could be brought to them.

The part of the agitated, self-protective Sentry was no exception. Here was the comic equivalent of the grand manner - every quip heavily underlined, everything illustrated by a comic gesture, even to the holding of the nose when the stench from the body of Polynices was mentioned. In the tragic parts as well, there was something too much of this fitting of action to words. It would have been better left to the Chorus, from whom it seems to be inevitable. Lest all this should seem captious, it must be acknowledged that it was a gallant production.

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