Swapnasandhani’s ‘Antigone’: A Contemporary Classic

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hridSwapnasandhani’s ‘Antigone’, directed Koushik Sen seems to create a buzz among the play lovers of the City of late. But how far the classicism of Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’ merge with Koushik Sen’s ‘Antigone’! Is it a contemporary piece of work or it is a true Classic? Spandan Banerjee sets out to find an answer of the play.

A journey from William Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth to Sophocles’ famous Greek Tragedy ‘Antigone’, ‘Swapnasandhani’ seems to mature as a troop, as a unit and most importantly as a cultural signature that is dedicatedly making sure that the intellectual audience take part in the flight from page to the stage. Directed by Koushik Sen who also plays the role of Creon in the play, ‘Antigone’ appears to be a classic portrayed in its rich flavor and fervor.

There’s nothing in the world so demoralizing as money.

The play opens with a common man reading the newspaper with a voice over giving the details of destruction from Gaza to Dhaka (murders of bloggers) setting the psychological plane for the audience to be a-tune to the doom and destruction that follows in the next 2 hours of the play. The placement of the dead-bodies made with straws, the hanging of the deads on the stage and the prologue by the blind prophet Tiresias about Zeus and Hera takes the audience back to the time of mythical classism. Sitting on the push back chair of the auditorium, by now the fourth wall is sure to get involved in the play. The stage-crafts designed and conceptualized by Soumik Chatterjee deserves a special mention as they play in the super conscious level of human minds. The lighting and the visual effects create an atmosphere of destruction throughout the play.

antigone1Reshmi Sen as ‘Antigone’ gives her one of the best performances on the stage. She is stubborn, She boasts about her parentage and in her body language it is evident that she celebrates being the daughter of Oedipus. The soliloquys of Antigone bring out her desperation and even the justification of going against the State and following the order of the Universe. She embraces her doom throwing questions against the audience regarding the powerful social decrees that are prevalent in the society.

The scenes between Antigone and Creon serve as the main USP of the play. The conversations are intense, powerful, heavy, austere and even guided to sheer dexterity. Koushik Sen, as expected, is better than the best. He speaks through his body language, mannerisms and gestures. He performs an unknown decree and suffers his hubris. The cathartic effect is very much pronounced in the play as Creon lives amidst the corpses of his own.

Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the Gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise

However, the chorus did not serve to be a huge factor in the play. At times, it felt dragging. The masks as symbols could have been used in a far more advanced sense. Riddhi Sen’s entry along with Tiresias in the second half gives a contemporary touch to the Greek Tragedy.  Subhra Sourav Das who played the role of Malcolm in ‘Macbeth’ plays the role of Haemon here. His confrontation with father Creon is surely one of the scenes to look out for. A side artist named Supratim Sinha as a ‘prahari’ brings in the ambience of comic relief in the play.

On the whole, SwapnaSandhani’s ‘Antigone’ maintains the contemporary flavor abiding to the Sophocles’ Classicism. The masterful and powerpacked performances take the play to a higher pulpit of audience expectation. Hearts sympathise with Creon as he drinks life from his self-poisoned chalice in the end of it all. Play lovers should not miss the 2 hour show as ‘Antigone’ serves as one of the best directed plays in the recent past.