The Riot Act
Tom Paulin (after Sophocles' Antigone)
Gate, Notting Hill
Antigone is a very powerful play and by translating it to a Northern Ireland early in the Troubles, Tom Paulin gives the claustrophobic drama a new twist. The Riot Act is a great start to the Gate's Under the Curse season of reworked Greek tragedies.
Creon ("The Big Man") is one of those bigots who spout platitudes about peace but provoke war. His refusal to allow Antigone to bury her guerrilla brother Polynices is the start of her tragedy but also his own.
Antigone's nobility as she follows her brave destiny is seen throughout this distillation of Sophocles' work. In particular Katherine Parkinson delivers an excellent, condemnatory final speech that commences in despair but becomes increasingly powerful.
The structure is clever as each actor in Alan Cox' ensemble is given a moment of glory before falling back into the mass. The parts are generally good whether as a king, like Christopher Hunter's Creon or a commoner like timid Glaswegian guard, Gareth Glen.
This intense hour-long play succeeds, partly as a result of Paulin's tough but poetic contemporary language but also because the characters in the tragedy, whether Greek or Northern Irish, are recognisable today.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher