Antigone (4 stars)

This article is from 2015


credit: Jan Versweyveld

A new translation by Anne Carson of Sophokles’ Greek tragedy

With the great Juliette Binoche being the face of this much-publicised production of Antigone at the King’s Theatre, it would not be unreasonable to assume that it was all about her and her alone. After all she is an international film star and arguably one of the finest actresses working in the world today. From the moment she flutters on stage like a baby bird, you know that you are in the presence of elegance and a professional at the top of her game. However, there is much more to this finely crafted show than just Binoche. In fact, she may not be the best thing about it.

When Antigone does not follow the orders of the head of state, Kreon, and buries her brother Polyneikes who has died in a cruel civil war, despite being deemed a traitor and a terrorist, she is sentenced to death. But there is much unrest and the advice is to reverse his punishment before it is too late. Release Antigone and bury the boy. Tragedy, however, looms on the horizon as decisions are made too late and the blood of many is spilled.

Approaching the work with both a classical sensitivity and modern resonance, this sharply written and strongly directed piece demands attention. As the sun and the moon shine down on the stage like ever-watching gods, the action feverishly and passionately plays out with barely a moment to draw breath.

Juliette Binoche is startling as the tortured Antigone, but it is Patrick O’Kane as the fearsome Kreon who steals the show. His confident and muscular performance outshines even Binoche, creating an air of authority that the character demands, yet displaying a complex and layered spirit.

Moving, dark, yet at times even funny, this is a show that has been worth all of the hype.

King’s Theatre, 473 2000, until 22 Aug (not 17), 7.30pm, £17–£48 (£8.50–£24).


  • 4 stars

Ivo van Hove directs a stellar cast including Juliette Binoche, Obi Abili, Kirsty Bushell, Samuel Edward-Cook, Finbar Lynch, Patrick O’Kane and Kathryn Pogson in Anne Carson’s striking new translation of Sophokles’s great tragedy. Binoche plays Antigone, a Theban noblewoman whose brother is deemed a traitor after fighting…