At the end of March, Cleveland Playhouse concluded their run of the Greek tragedy “Antigone” in the Outcalt Theatre. This was the performance originally scheduled to open in the spring of 2020 until the pandemic shutdown halted the rehearsal process. The production of the show was adapted by Emily Mann and directed by Lauren Keating.
With an eye-catching set composed of 3-dimensional columns, combined with the thrust stage layout of the Outcalt Theatre, audience members truly felt immersed in the action onstage.
Particularly in the show’s opening, along with the actors, they become the crowd of civilians being addressed in Creon’s speech. This feeling of being surrounded by the plot continues throughout the entire duration of the show as the performers use the aisleways for entrances and exits.
A tale of loss and power, Antigone grieves the death of her brother, who the empire refuses to mourn because of his traitorous actions in the murder of their other brother. Defiling against the decree set forth by newly appointed leader, Creon, that prohibits any sort of memorial, Antigone buries her brother. In this adaptation of the show, the character of Creon is a woman — a change that I enjoyed seeing.
The narrative of the show brings about a question of morals and the divide between right and wrong — one’s loyalty to power and duty or to the love and forgiveness of family. In the end, Creon suffers the guilt of her power and experiences a punishment worse than death. All of her family gone by her own doing, leaving her to live in the consequences of her actions.
Both Kristina Gabriela and Vanessa Morosco delivered powerful performances as the two leading characters — Antigone and Creon — commanded the space and kept the audience’s attention throughout. Also notable was the performance of Steve Gladstone as Teiriesia, the blind prophet. I admired the authenticity in the casting of a blind actor in this role.
With a futuristic take on this play, originally written in 442 BC by Sophocles, the themes somehow remain timeless. The blend of contemporary costumes helps bring this narrative into any place or time. Being about 90-minutes, the show was one act and did not disappoint. The plot transpired quickly but never lost my attention as an audience member, having a satisfying beginning, middle, and end.
The current show onstage at Cleveland Playhouse is their MFA program performance of “Passage,” with just a quick run until April 2. Concluding the 2021-22 season is “The Three Musketeers,” onstage at the Allen Theatre from April 30 to May 22.
In addition, Cleveland Playhouse just made their 2022-23 season announcement this past week. The lineup includes “American Mariachi, The Great Leap, Light It Up, I’m Back Now,” ‘Becoming Dr. Ruth,” and Ken Ludwig’s “Moriarty: A New Sherlock Holmes Mystery.” For more information about Cleveland Playhouse and upcoming shows, please refer to their website.