Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

antigone cast

Antigone cast in rehearsal. Pictures: Daniel Beaton


Hall Green Little Theatre


Every so often along comes a production that blurs any distinction between amateur and professional and this one blows it away completely. It is simply superb - theatre at its best.

Ros Davies, a Hall Green stalwart, brings Chorus to life in Jean Anouilh's 1944 take on the third of Sophocles Theban plays. She is a one-woman Greek chorus explaining, describing and warning, making her speeches sing, grip and enthral. A pleasure to listen to her wonderful delivery in a part played by Laurence Oliver in the original British premiere in 1949.

As Chorus she first introduces the players, describing each one by one, and telling of their fate to come – a warning that this is probably not going to end well.

And then there is the eponymous Antigone, rebellious daughter of Oedipus, played with a burning spirit by Chloe Delpino, a youth theatre graduate and, on this showing, she has graduated with honours, it is a phenomenal performance, with emotion coming through in every line. You can see it in her face and in her eyes, at one point almost close to tears, as she challenges the law of man, in this case her uncle, Creon, king of Thebes, and embraces her fate.

To her the divine law she follows negates any mortal decree, in this case Creon’s edict that anyone mourning or burying her brother Polynices will be put to death, something she threatens to defy at the start of the play and dies for at the end in a stunning and believable performance.


Chloe Delpino is simply superb as Antigone

How we get to that pass is chronicled in Sophocles three plays from the fifth century in which the mythical Greek tragic hero Oedipus accidentally fulfils a prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother - all to do with being adopted if you were wondering - which dooms him and his family – and gives us the Oedipus complex for psychoanalysts to play with.

When Oedipus dies his sons Polynices and Eteocles battle for the throne of Thebes and end up killing each other, which leaves Oedipus’s brother Creon as the reluctant King.

With both dead sons having their supporters he has a balancing act to manage and in a toss a coin moment he picks Eteocles as the hero and Polynices as the villain, decreeing his body be left to rot, unmourned and unburied upon pain of death.

Steve Fisher is an underplayed Creon, more like an accountant or town clerk than a king, the rule of law, or you suspect just rules, being everything to him. He has neither the flexibility of thought nor the imagination or charisma to rule by strength of personality – and remember he has the two camps of the dead brothers to control.

He is in a role he never sought and one he appears not best suited to carry out. Following him like a shadow is the Intern, played by Joel Patel, there to do the King’s bidding in silent support.

When Antigone becomes a problem Creon jumps through hoops trying to save her without breaking the rules he has imposed. It means the guards just doing their job, following his orders, are set to be sacrificed to maintain the rule of law, at least on the face of it.

Muddying the waters further is the fact his son Haemon, another fine performance from Sammy Lees, another youth theatre graduate, is engaged to be married to Antigone and putting her to death is not going to go down well with him.

Then there are the guards Snout, played by Oli Scott, Binns, Andy Hoole and Jonas, Michael Parker. The three of them are tasked with guarding the rotting, stinking body, following orders slavishly.


Steve Fisher is the matter of fact King Creon guided  by the rule of law

Jonas is the elected spokesman and the font of all knowledge on the terms and conditions of being a guard as well as pay grades and the differences between the army, where he was a sergeant, and the guards where he is just a guard and . . . z z z z z      

Kathryn Fisher fusses around Antigone as the Nurse, rather like in Romeo and Juliet, a mix of nanny and confident, having cared for her and her sister, Ismene, as well as their two now dead brothers.

Niamh-Arianne Warrillow, a former pupil at Birmingham Ormiston Academy, stepped into the role of Ismene at short notice, and carries the responsibility of older sister well, trying to guide Antigone and dissuade her from the destructive path she was about to take.

Then there is the silent one, Eurydice, Creon’s wife, Queen of Thebes, who quietly knits items for the poor. We see her, clacking needles in hand, as a queen at the start and hear of her and her fate as a mother at the end.

Creon’s adherence, obsession, fanaticism for a law he never believed in in the first place has become his own undoing. The second act sees him in a long. play-defining dialogue with Antigone as he tries to find ways of both saving her, saving his precious rule of law, and saving face.

She challenges him and all he stands for, determined to die - but die for what? Covering her brother's rotting corpse with earth, a symbolic burial, is little more than a gesture. The body will be uncovered and left to rot once more and the only thing changed is Antigone will be dead.

The argument revolves around authority and laws, in particular those which are unreasonable or for political purpose, it involves family, loyalty and politics with Creon stating with a hint of defeat that: “nothing is true apart from that which is never said.” A sentiment not exactly alien to our own political landscape.

Creon defends his position which ends with him being forced by Antigone to carry out the punishment under the law, his own law he never agreed with in the first place.

There is no right or wrong, just stark choices - accept and live or defy and die.

When it premiered in Paris, during World War II, it was under Nazi censorship, so Anouilh had to be careful but the arguments were plain with Creon representing authority, and adherence to it at all costs, and Antigone the champion of freedom fighting the repression imposed by those in power.

The correlation between the occupying Nazis and Vichy Government and the French Resistance could not be clearer – and with extremist politics it still has echoes today.

Antigone might be based on Greek mythology and a play some 1,500 years old but it is a very modern telling of an ancient tale, beautifully acted by the 11 strong cast, and confidently directed by Jean Wilde on a simple, and effective set.

This is theatre at its very best, holding your attention from Chorus’s opening line to her sad farewell, after a body count approaching Midsomer Murder levels. She leaves with the guards playing cards, just obeying orders, as if nothing had happened. To 04-03-23.

Roger Clarke


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