My own flesh and blood—dear sister, dear Ismene, how many griefs our father Oedipus handed down!
~ Antigone to her sister Ismene
Antigone (Sage Howard owns this role) is a woman on a determined mission to bury her brother Polyneices. The King and uncle Creon (major props for Jason Vande Brake) has set the order that the fallen soldier will not have proper burial. Instead, he wishes to lay Oedipus’ son to deteriorate in the battlefield and let the animals take over. The new ruler decides that his niece must die for going against his wishes. Antigone is no punk. She stands up for herself and for Polyneices. What kind of an uncle orders his niece to die and his nephew to decay until the flesh is picked clean? The man has some serious issues. Ismene (Mercedes Manning is so inspiring), Antigone’s little sis, tries unsuccessfully to convince her headstrong sister to leave things be and move on. Ismene knows that this fight will only escalate until no one makes out it alive.
In her way, she’s strong like Antigone, but, in a calmer fashion. Antigone isn’t having none of it. She buries her brother, Uncle Creon finds out, goes into a blind rage and sentences Antigone to be buried alive. Where is the love? And all that happens in one morning turned into evening. It just isn’t the girl’s day. Creon demands for both to die, unbeknownst to him, the number of deaths will rise higher than he expected. In the meantime, Tiresias (Jeff Marras) warns Creon how ‘the city is sick through your fault.’ The blind prophet is on the only person that doesn’t cow down to Creon.
Howard does an excellent job in showing Antigone’s both ready-to-die mode and vulnerability. She doesn’t go around the stage, screaming out her brother’s name or curse at whoever is around. She stands tall, focuses on the future and marches forth. That’s the sign of a true gangsta chick. She exudes her softer side with no hesitation to Ismene. Manning plays her with confidence and finesse. As the younger sister, she’s worried for Antigone. She tries to bring the peace, but this is a Greek tragedy, it’s not supposed to end happily. Ismene serves as a moral compass. She reminds others that resolutions can be found and made. However, her wishes fall on deaf ears. At the center of this sinister madness, is his royal highness Creon.
Doing a great job on playing the king, Brake brings out an impenetrable force as Creon. He is stubborn, thirsty for more power and an overall harsh leader. He looks down, literally the man is nearly over six feet tall, at Antigone while telling her with grand eagerness she will die. Like all kings before him, Creon’s grand male bravado is what eventually brings him down. And when the mighty falls, it does so hard. His attitude is beyond malicious with his extended family. He is heartbroken about the death of his queen wife Eurydice (Emily L. Gibson) and son and Antigone’s fiancé Haimon (Jim Senti).
Senti is another standout. He plays Haimon with conviction and strength, with an intense affection for Antigone. He worships his father but will ride-and-die for his woman. Though Gibson isn’t on stage for too long, she leaves an indelible presence that the queen is alive, well and will speak her mind without consequence. Like Antigone, she has beloved fondness for Haimon and loses it when he dies. Creon is beside himself with grief. Brake is magnificent as the tenacious King of Thebes. He does the unthinkable to both his niece and nephew and shakes the dirt of his shoulder with ease and no remorse. The handsome looking bastard leaves a lasting impression.
As the last section of a trilogy, this is one of writer Sophocles’ best tales. Writer Matt Minnicino does a phenomenal re-shaping Greek writer Sophocles’ story, Antigone is the last part in a trilogy Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus, giving it some extra punch to the oft-told story. Director Amanda McRaven should receive many accolades for executing a great show. Brake and Howard are perfect in their respective roles. Their passion for the work comes through clearly with no hesitation marks.
Antigone: We Are the Rebels Asking for the Storm plays until Saturday, June 2nd at 7 p.m., Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., at the Bootleg Theater, located at 2220 Beverly Blvd., in Los Angeles. For tickets, log on to www.fugitivekind.org.