Inspired by the modern era, playwright Andy Boyd adapted Antigone to the modern times. Antigone is now a cyberterrorist. Ismene is one of the world’s top hackers. She’s engaged to He-man (Haemon in the original play) who is the head of National Security. Creon is still the tyrant king but there is a greater element of intrigue in his actions. As a political drama, it’s not afraid to address topics that we see on the nightly news: torture, drones, surveillance.
The setting is still Thebes, but the play is an allegory for the US. The American flag on the set made this evident. The modernization of Antigone does not fully work. Boyd kept the city states in the original play, so instead of countries we heard about Thebes and Sparta facing off. However, Boyd is limited by Creon being a king, which is not translated well to a republic like the US. Additionally, Boyd had to adapt the Ancient Greek religious tradition that was the crux of the conflict in the play – the burial of Polyneices. Despite the challenges, Boyd was detailed in his adaptation. I found the change from “God” to “gods” particularly amusing, as this detail illustrated the Boyd’s attention to his work.
There are comedic elements to the play. Most notably, the character of Jones often provided comic relief to the show. At one point, he went on a bit related to Free Slurpee Day, which probably won’t be repeated in subsequent performances. Another amusing aspect is the press interludes. At certain points in the play, there are scenes reminiscent of TMZ, 24-hour news networks, and political commentary shows. These allowed for fun tongue-in-cheek moments in the play, creating more parallels with the modern time period.
Teiresias, the blind prophet in the original play, is the best reinvention. She’s now a journalist, tortured and blinded by Creon. However, the role of Tiresias is different than his role in the original. Additionally, Creon’s role in the play is greatly reduced. This adaptation focuses more on Ismene, who represents a pragmatic view of the world, in contrast to Antigone’s extremism. What Boyd seems to be critiquing is that the current state of the world is consumed by two forms of extremism – represented by Creon and Antigone. This extremism destroys reason and pragmatism. It is a fitting critique of the world, as everyday there seems to be a new story in the news that reflects the growing polarization of the world.