Review: Trap Door Theatre’s Must-See Production of Antigonick Takes on a Bittersweet Classic

The Trap Open Series is designed to bring non-traditional dramatic takes to Trap Door Theatre's stage for short runs. The latest in the series is Antigonick, translated and adapted by Anne Carson. This take on Sophokle's classic work, Antigone, mirrors the original's tragic narrative while adding its own wit and humor.

Trap Door's production is distinguished by its tightly woven six-person cast, though they're able to embody the power of a full Greek chorus. Each member slips in and out of the roles necessary to tell the ancient story—Jenn Geiger, Juliet Huneke, Lo Miles, Tia Pinson, Lolo Ramos, and Sarah Wisterman are, in turn, on the frontlines of the action and, at other times, blend in as watermarks on the story’s backdrop. Ember Sappington's dramaturgy shines through, as these actors thrive within the clear interpretive parameters set for Carson's text (as it retells Sophokles'). The production's director, Anna Klos, asks in the program, “How has Carson’s translation given us a different understanding of a story we thought we knew? When we hold it up to the light, what angles catch this time?” Antigonick shows off an original perspective through its use of movement, voice, and modern reactions.

The cast of Antigonick. Photo courtesy of Trap Door Theatre.

As in the classic story, Antigone, a daughter of the tragic figure Oedipus, mourns her two brothers, one who was given a proper burial and the other who was denied any death ritual by the state of Thebes and its king, Creon. As Antigone (and a member of the amoebic ensemble), Lolo Ramos holds the audience in rapt attention, stepping into the character's well-worn shoes to find her own wellspring of mourning.

As the story takes shape, her sister Ismene (played by Tia Pinson) tries to reason with Antigone as she declares her intention to bury their brother illegally, but her sister will not be swayed. As Creon the king of Thebes, Sarah Winterson is steadfast with a hint of madness, seeking to punish Antigone despite her engagement to his son Haimon (Jenn Geiger), whom he shares with Euridyke (Juliet Lang). The family drama unfolds from two sides, as two sisters are torn apart and the consequences of the king's actions take their toll on his loved ones.

Antigonick poster.

Antigonick's special touch is in the details: the dried flower petals on Antigone's brother's grave, the chalk writing on the stage and walls. Its beautiful hand-painted and written program, which quotes Carson: “To lie unwept and unburied sweet sorry meat for the little lusts of birds.” The play creates its own music from Carson's poetic lines, as an ensemble member plays an accordion and the cast dances freely. (Set design by Suz Evans, assistant set design by Beanca Caniglia, costume design by Emily Nichelson, and movement/choreography by Miguel Long.)

The cast of Antigonick. Photo courtesy of Trap Door Theatre.

With a running time of under an hour, Antigonick is an ideal night of theater that gives you a Greek tragedy without sitting through three interminable acts. The production is also a fleeting beauty, with only three weekends of performances. Carson's writing introduces the painful losses that change Sophokles' characters, and audiences will see the changes they might endure if met with Antigone's fate. The wordplay of "in the nick of time," and whatever a "nick" might represent, plays throughout the text, and the cast creates their own fun and whimsy amidst the heartbreaking threat of losing time with the people we love.

Antigonick has been extended through June 22 at Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W Cortland St. Tickets are $15 and available at https://trapdoor.ticketleap.com/antigonick/ or by calling 773-384-0494.

For more information on this and other plays, see theatreinchicago.com.

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Row Light

Row Light (she/they) is a Chicago-based culture writer and editor. You can find their work at row-light.com.