The Burial At Thebes: Retelling of Greek tale was amazing

From TheClarionMC on YouTube

Josh Zytkiewicz, Broadcast General Manager

Madison College Performing Arts opened their latest production, “The Burial at Thebes” on Friday, Jan. 27, in the Mitby Theater.

The play is a retelling of the ancient Greek story of Antigone rewritten in 2004 by Irish playwright Seamus Heaney.

Antigone, played masterfully and with great emotion by Maria Cina in her first Madison College performance, wishes to properly bury her brother Polyneices, an act forbidden by the new King Creon.

Creon refuses burial of Polyneices because he fought against the city in the recent war.  Creon is brought to life by Cody Laper.  Most recently seen as Tom Joad in the fall production of “The Grapes of Wrath”, it’s hard to believe Laper isn’t an old Greek king.  

This transformation is enhanced by the wonderful costume design of Rebecca Stanley.  Her monochrome color palette, various shades of black, white, and grey, join the cast together while still differentiating the characters.  Creon looks imposing, until you realize his shoulder pads are fake, perhaps signifying he has less power than he would have you believe.  Antigone and her sister Ismene (Elliott Puckette) both wear more luxurious dresses than other women, with Antigone being slightly more risqué.

Dawn Marie Svanoe designed the makeup for the production, also in a monochrome palette reminiscent of a skull or Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead).  It is perhaps most striking on Tiresias (India Freeman), the seer who warns Creon that his actions may disturb the gods.  Speaking of Tiresias, one of the few comedic parts in this tragic play is when Tiresias forces Creon to the ground.

Typical of Greek plays there is a chorus that represent the people of Thebes.  Made up of five to six individuals in similar costumes with identical masks, their often unison voice was creepy, but effective.

There were a few stumbles on opening night.  A few bungled lines, and on more than one occasion I had trouble hearing what was being said.  

This lack of volume was surprising to me because of the producers choice to sit the audience on the Mitby stage, bringing us even closer to the actors than usual.  One actor was either nervous, or a bit over zealous in his portrayal of the Guard, his words tended to run into each other.

Overall it was an amazing night.  There are three performances remaining; Friday Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday Feb. 5 at 2 p.m.  Madison College students can get in free with their OneCard, $10 for non-students.