Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Burial at Thebes

Seamus Heaney's The Burial at Thebes, his 2004 version of Antigone by Sophocles (read an extract here), has just opened in a revival at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin, and is reviewed today in the Irish Times and the Irish Independent. Antigone was our own Junior Play two months ago, as reviewed here. (Neil Corcoran reviewed the original production four years ago in the Guardian here).

In the Irish Times, Peter Crawley says that 'Heaney's graceful, nimble version seems stunningly attuned to the political moment' and that it is 'now honoured as a vivid and supple work by Patrick Mason's focussed production'. The design by Ferdia Murphy renders 'Thebes as a bullet-pocked concrete city'. He particularly praises the acting of Jane Brennan as Eurydice and concludes that this is 'a production worthy of the play; lucid, compelling and forever relevant' (only available online for Premium subscribers).

In the Independent, Bruce Arnold is less positive, criticising Declan Conlon as King Creon, saying that his acting is 'one-dimensional' and finishes by saying that 'Patrick Mason's direction is a transition from slick stage movements, which set the tone at the beginning, and then fail to embrace the tragic carnage at the end.' (full online review here).

Helen Meany's review in the Guardian states that 'While such a deliberate, formal staging and an almost motionless cast draws our attention back to Heaney's language, it seems too reverential to involve us. Setting it in such an iconic historical period removes the play's conflicts from us, too, making them very abstract. While a contemporary setting might be reductive, at least it would have risked something.'

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