Antigone at Trebah Garden

Trebah Amphitheatre 22nd Jul 2023 6:30pm

by Sophocles translated by Don Taylor

presented by the Minack Theatre Acting Academy

Antigone, niece to the King, sets herself in opposition to her uncle when she attempts to bury the body of her brother, killed in a failed rebellion. Her simple act of defiance shakes the state to its foundations, and everyone has a choice to make. Do you support a fundamentalist ruler and condemn a young woman who flouts an unjust law, or do you challenge authority and risk a descent into anarchy? 

Sophocles’s 2,000 year old play examines issues as urgent in today’s world as they were to the ancient Greeks.  Don Taylor’s translation blends archaic and colloquial language beautifully, making it easy to recreate the world of ancient Thebes as the dysfunctional future of a Western state.

In the battle between opposing ideologies, there are no winners, even those who don’t take sides can’t avoid the fallout. Politics doesn’t get more personal than this.

This exciting, highly-charged production of one of the world’s greatest dramas is performed by students of the Minack Theatre Acting Academy.

Review by Jenni Balow


War - what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Sophocles asked the question more than 2,000 years ago when he wrote Antigone, one of his classic Greek tragedy's that is as relevant today as it was back then.

In 1970, US Motown soul singer Edwin Starr scored a hit with a song of the same name, and it was the stunning and original choice of director John Brolly to open the play to the pulsing beat and the same angry question posed over the war in Vietnam.

How rare it is that a classic Greek tragedy is played out on a cliffside in West Cornwall, and what a classic experience it turned out to be, thanks to exceptional performances by eight students of the Minack Theatre Acting Academy, all of them aged 18 years or under.

The choice of Don Taylor's translation was a brave and challenging one, with long lines of a complex script to be learned and delivered with high intensity.

This cast seized the day, faultlessly bringing us the tale of the new King of Thebes, Creon, who dictates that the body of one of two brothers who are killed, having taken opposing sides on the field of battle, is to be left unburied, where he fell.

This is too much to bear for their sister and neice of the king, Antigone, who resolves that he must be buried, although she risks death if she breaks the state law ... and the tragedy unfolds from there.

The action begins in the 21st century hub of Creon's office, all polished glass, chrome, laptops and earbuds, the 'suits' gulping tumblers of booze, and all flatteringly deferential to the demands of the King  -  why did it remind me of a Lockdown party at No10?

Marnie Cole plays Creon, imperious in a beautifully cut military tunic, and one who must be obeyed, until, much later, things unravel and she gives a truly touching performance, with cheeks streaked with mascara and tears. A wonderful range of emotions.

It is a future star, with a gorgeous clear Irish voice, Cillian Britchfield, who brings just a little levity as the unlucky soldier who drew the short straw to stammeringly bring unwelcome news to the King, choking on his words, brilliantly done.

Another actor with an amazing voice is Patrick Chruszcz, who is there to warn the stubborn and inflexible King.

Caitlin Dow as Antigone, Emily Mayhew as Ismene, Celia Gill as Euridice and young Lucy Beasley, 14, as Haemon, give the finest of performances of despair over the intractable situation, with the sweet soft-voiced  Lauren Ridehalgh, completing the line-up.

John Brolly assembled a tried and tested creative and technical team including Marion Harrison, Darcey Ball, Byron Ladd-Carr, Jordan Lever and Sian Kennedy, for this remarkable production that will tour Cornwall this month.

About events at Trebah

  • This event takes place in our open-air amphitheatre and we are used to the Cornish weather! Outdoor events will only be cancelled in extreme weather conditions, so please bring a coat.
  • Please allow 20 minutes before the performance starts to walk to the amphitheatre, as it is situated in the heart of Trebah Garden.
  • With tiered seating and plenty of leg room everyone gets ‘the best seat in the house’, so there’s no need to bring your own chairs (but a cushion is a good idea). Please be aware however that seating is unreserved.
  • A number of cushioned seats with back supports are available at the amphitheatre on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • For large parties and groups, please arrive in plenty of time for us to find you seats together.
  • Due to the topography of the garden there is limited access to the amphitheatre, which may not be suitable for all types of mobility vehicles. We will do everything we can to make sure you can see the show but please call us on 01326 252205 before booking to discuss.
  • Our only toilets are within the Visitor Centre at the top of the garden.
  • Although many of our paths are lit it is advisable to bring a torch with you.
  • Picnics are welcome at this event and light refreshments will also be available.
  • We have plenty of free parking available for all events.
  • Trebah loves dogs but unfortunately they are unable to attend live performance events. 

This production of Antigone will be performed at four venues:

12 - 13 July - The Minack Theatre 
19 July - Enys Gardens
22 July - Trebah Gardens
26 - 27 July - Mount Pleasant Eco Park

To book tickets, click on the venue link