Midsumma Presents AntigoneX

A queer tragedy turned comedy that provokes more questions than answers

By Owen James

Ancient Greece has received a modern makeover in AntigoneX, a self-defined “queer tragedy”. Presented as part of the Midsumma Festival, writer Zachary Dunbar has refashioned Sophocles’ tragedy into a fashionable exploration of sexuality, art and identity. AntigoneX will make you laugh, and make you think.

Directors Zachary Dunbar and Katy Maudlin have created a unique world within which to explore important questions: where does sexuality and gender conflict with identity? Do artists feel a burden from their art? In a world so absurd, where does parody begin? There are more questions than answers, certainly – but this piece provokes discussion outside the theatre doors, as any good theatre should. Even those unfamiliar with the original story of Antigone will connect with these defiant ideas, and particularly Midsumma regulars.

There are wonderful moments of comedy, executed with perfect synchronised movement by the topless Greek Chorus, identifiable only by number. Connor Leach, Leigh Scully, Patrick Livesey, Jim Coulson and Jonathan Graffam bring laughs and atmospherics – they are a perfectly matched group of five. Louisa Wall as Dee Tritus, a washed-up cabaret performer, is our host and confidante, giving us sour comedy, attitude, exposition and explanation.

Darcy Whitsed as Haemon aspires to supersede definition, ready to rock the political boat and defy Uncle Creon (Nick Clark). Their ongoing conflict fuels drama-filled scenes and builds to an explosive conclusion. Phoebe Mason as Antigone and Briony Farrell as Ismene are both strong female leads, presenting witty satire through their characters, who suffer the consequences for being different.

Sets and costumes by Nathan Burmeister are considered and inventive. The stage is framed by crumbling poles, giving a constant reminder of the Greek influence. Dee Tritus’ brilliant rubbish bag dress reflects the trashy personality she exudes.

This show has balls. Beach balls, to be precise. AntigoneX reminds us to be bold in the face of conformity, and strong in times of oppression. The more the individual is compartmentalised, labelled and ignored, the greater the danger of explosion.

Head on down to Theatre Works for “the queerest tragedy you’ll ever see” – running until February 4th.
Times: 2:30pm, 7:00pm
Prices: $25 – $35
Bookings: https://midsumma.org.au/program/antig18