Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s ( MET) presents a new world premiere adaptation of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Antigone by MET ensemble member Reiner Prochaska. This sets Antigone against King Creon and the honor of her brother who has died during the war as she attempts to bury him. The production mixes modern technology with an excellent ensemble, costumes, and set design producing a successful formula. Director Julie Herber uses all of these elements and works with the playwright Reiner Prochaska to create something new, creative, and vibrant – while reworking this Greek classic.
Prochaska travels time and space with his adaptation. The drama starts in war torn Magdeburg, Germany in 1631, moves on to battle-infested Sharpsburg, Maryland in 1862, moves to a 1923 Irish battlefield before stopping in present day Mediterranean Desert Kingdom which is engulfed in war. In each location Antigone (Vanessa Strickland), wants to bury her brother and there is a struggle as she battles religious freedoms, the grieving process, and individual and communal rights. There is also an unspoken anti-war message coveyed through the pain, hurt, frustration, and problems created by war.
Vanessa Strickland gives a stellar emotional performance as Antigone, and her face tells the story of the hardship a sister must endure to bury her brother. Time and places change but the pain of war remains – and Strickland displays this to the audience flawlessly. The remaining members of the passionate, busy, and admirable cast are: Devin Gaither (Female Chorus #3), Ashley Hall (Female Chorus #2), Joe Jalette (Male Chorus #3), Karen Paone (Female Chorus #1), Reiner Prochaska (Male Chorus #1), and Bill Stitely (Male Chorus #2), and they work so well together.
The live percussion by Brandon Kayda adds some nice accents. However, I did find some of the original music by Thom Huenger detracted from the play. I have an open ear for most music – but a lot of the music sounded like hearing tests with added feedback. Fortunately, the numbers were short-lived and the volume was not overly loud.
On the other hand, the videography by Reiner Prochaska complements the story well. The modern news segments make the drama feel like it’s going on in real time. Displaying the dates and places helps the audience follow the story. The only drawback to the videos was that the taped monologues were being played back as the actors were performing their monologues. The timing seemed off.
Sherry Shaner’s costume design serves the show and cast well. She gives Vanessa a scarf which she works into every scene in a different way, and supplies the cast with quick-changing costumes which fit the time periods well. One of her best costumes is the Union Captain uniform she designed for Joe Jalette in first act.
Maryland Ensemble Theatre deserves kudos for producing Prochaskas’ daring, creative and thought-provoking production of Antigone, which is passionately directed by Julie Herber, and performed by a talented cast.
Running Time: About Two hours, with a 15 minute intermission.