Red lights pour into an empty room with a filled opening night crowd for Antigone, the Arts and Humanities Students' Council's annual play. The brooding atmosphere lingers with the tragedy that will ensue for the next few hours — and it does, but it felt longer than the intended two-hour play.
For those unfamiliar to the Greek tragedy, it's the story of Antigone, a young girl who wishes to bury her martyred brother after he betrays the kingdom. Despite her uncle and new king Creon's ruling to prevent the body from being buried, Antigone is determined to complete her goal and accept her death sentence, bringing more shame to the kingdom and distress in the family. Although Antigone's defiance only affects her, the Greek gods always have a hand in every decision, impacting more people than expected.
The play has good acting and direction, but unfortunately that's it, making it very tepid. Every person knows how to play their part, but altogether Antigone is nothing to write home about; it's just a group of students acting. With this in mind, there are specific performances that should be mentioned.
Antigone, played by Andrea Holstein, and Creon (Kevin Heslop) carry the show. Each, in their own way, have a strong grasp on their characters and the weight of their decisions. Holstein seems to understand how Antigone would act, but she doesn't fully embody the character until halfway through the play. After warming up to the role, however, Holstein and Antigone are seamless; a success in the casting department.
Heslop is Creon undoubtably, an absolute standout performance in Antigone. His yells shake you and his glares burn with disappointment. He is the old man you hate but also feel very close to. You know where he's coming from and how much weight he bears as the new ruler of the throne. Despite his hair being spray-painted grey, it's safe to say his beard grew a few aged hairs after this role.
Even though these two stood out throughout the play, their roles became rather annoying due to a poor-sighted decision to have no intermission. When this was announced at the beginning it sounded like an exciting feat. What ultimately happened was a tiring, 30-minute long dialogue between Antigone and Creon that plateaued 15 minutes in. People shifted in their seats and attention broke, all the while the two actors talked away completely unfazed. Something to commend them on, but not the best directorial decision.
Thankfully, the guards entered in and out of the scene towards the end, adding lighthearted laughter to reel people back into the story. Their quirkiness added the much-needed relief after the long altercation. Spencer Chaisson and Abraham Rogers, the two favourites, brought the most life to their characters and never broke once, clearly showing they've been the comedians of a show before. Their roles were reminiscent of their parts in Theatre Western's play One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest where they also played guards and, obviously, the gems of the show. Their comedic schticks made Antigone more lighthearted as the tragedy reached its climax, reminding everyone that even in heavy situations we need to laugh sometimes.
To much avail though, the person who stood out the most was Paul Scala. The actor, a member in Antigone's chorus line, has been spotted in several other campus plays but he finally found his true calling in life is: narrating. To hear Scala's voice as the commentator for the rest of your life would be an absolute pleasure. He's Western's David Attenborough.
All in all, Antigone as a performance is just another murmur on Western's campus, echoing of potential success but falling silent at its execution. Go to support student art and to be serenaded by Scala's voice, but take Antigone for what it is: good work directed, produced and acted by students.
Antigone will be playing at the ARTS Project until Saturday. Find more information on Facebook.