(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/31.)
We are at the hub of a modern seat of power. As we hear the whirring sound of a helicopter overhead, frantic desk-wallahs pass urgent messages ever higher up the chain of command. Finally, everyone gathers round a screen to witness and cheer the capture of a noted enemy of the state.
With its echoes of the huddle in the White House situation room during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, this is the opening image of Polly Findlay's stirring new production of Sophocles' Antigone; and, having exerted its grip from the start, it never lets go. In Findlay's production, which uses the 1986 Don Taylor translation, the defeated Polyneices represents a terrorist threat; and, in her determination to bury her dead brother despite official decree, Antigone implicitly becomes a dangerous subversive. Meanwhile Creon, as head of state, embodies all the certainty, arrogance and myopia of inflexible authority.