Greek drama from Palestine: Antigone in Arab

mai 2010 - Antigone au Théâtre National Palestinen - Jérusalem. Mise en scène Adel Hakim

The Palestinian National Theatre is touring parts of Europe with its version of Sophocles’ Antigone in Arab, subtitled in French.

In a long line of dramatic heroes which include the likes of Hamlet, Blanche DuBois, Willy Loman or Medea, Antigone certainly stands out as one of the most selfless and pitiable characters of the lot. In her desire to do right by her brother, she ends up condemned to entombment and starvation in a cave. Her consequent suicide leads to her fiancé and his mother’s suicide, which in turn destroys the royal line of Creon, King of Thebes.

This timeless tragedy, though short in lines, is heavy on theme, and has inspired theatre makers for centuries to dig deep and dig hard at their creativity. At its core, Antigone is a story of two sides warring over the importance of religious obedience, honour and family vs. state. The Palestinian National Theatre now comes to Europe with its own interpretation which, understandably, lies close to their hearts.

The theatre group has obviously grasped the gravity of the play as from start to finish they deliver their lines with unabated intensity. However, be it because of its translation into Arab (a language this reviewer does not speak) or because of the dozens of high school students bullied into coming to see the play for school, neither the piece nor the acting manage to properly resonate with its audience. The weight that had been attached to the delivery  jarred with the comic relief imposed on some scenes, and neither Creon nor Antigone convinced with their interpretations of the two powerhouse opponents they were written to be.

Antigone, as directed by Adel Hakim, starring amongst others: Shaden Salim, Yasmin Hamaar and Hussam Abu Eisheh. The play features work by the late poet Mahmoud Darwish and stirring music by the famous Joubran Trio.

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I'm a Dutch writer/poet/walnut eater living in Brussels. I enjoy theatre. Playing, writing, watching, reviewing it. I have no children, no dogs but I do have a set of dead cactuses.

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