Creon saddles up
It was a smooth slide from Greek myth to the Wild West in Creon , playwright Ned Dickens 's take on the story of Antigone.
Running last weekend alongside the Taste Of The Danforth -- well, actually, just north of the festival -- the premiere by Theatreworks Productions ' Stone Circle Project may not have drawn the thousands eating their way across the city's east-end avenue. Still, the show, staged in an actual circle of stones, had respectable houses for its brief run.
Audiences were treated to an intriguing production, set by director Vikki Anderson in a Deadwood-style town (designed by Jackie Chau ) where violence is close to the surface. In the original, Antigone, one of the children of the tragic Oedipus, buries one of her dead brothers against the orders of the ruler, her uncle Creon, and pays the consequences.
In Dickens's version, it's 15 years after the event, and the regulars in a tavern (with such unusual names as Water, Glass and Blood) convince a Stranger to help them enact the tale again, with the Stranger cast as Creon. He thinks it'll be cathartic for them, but he's the one who ends up transformed by the play-within-a-play.
The text has a singular poetry mixed with a strong sense of irony, and the company brought out its contrasting astringency and comedy. Its strongest moments are a series of two-handers where characters battle subtly for power.
The innkeeper (the memorable Melee Hutton ) says the town is "a place of wine and stories." The liquor flows so liberally that the stories reach into hidden, dark corners of the characters' psyches.
Sarah Evans 's Antigone grabbed our attention right away with her commanding voice and striking presence, while Dmitry Chepovetsky played the initially assured but soon troubled Creon, forced to make complex choices that back him into a corner.
We admired Victoria Adilman 's double turn as the schoolmarmish Firewood and Creon's sensual, velvet-and-steel wife, Eurydice; Meegwun Fairbrother as a young man in the gender-shifted role of Antigone's sister, Ismene; and Jeffrey R. Smith as a tipsy townsman/priest intent on enforcing the law.
Adrian Proszowski as Antigone's husband-to-be and Creon's son Haemon and Emily Andrews as a woman who anticipates playing the prophet Tiresias rounded out the strong ensemble.
More next year from this company, please -- and a longer run.
Greek tragedy wasn't the only culture people got to taste on the Danforth. Inside the Music Hall Friday and Saturday (August 10 and 11), hundreds of lucky viewers sampled some of Spain's finest flamenco artists.
As the headliners of the first Toronto International Flamenco Festival , dancers Alicia Marquez and Nano burned up the stage with their colourful, foot-stamping show. Flamenco's not an art form for the meek or shy, and in their passionate duets the two offered a melodrama in miniature with jaw-dropping technique and confidence.
Márquez, proud and extroverted, commanded the stage, most impressively in the Alegrias section, where she effortlessly flipped her dress's long (and very heavy) train.
Nano, hair drenched with perspiration, was Márquez's poised partner and a slyly erotic figure in his bravura solos.
Musicians are as important a part of a flamenco show as the dancers. Manuel Pérez and Jordi Albarran created haunting harmonies with their guitars, while David Lagos and the young Spanish sensation Jésus Corvacho showed what flamenco singing, with its mournful outpouring of emotion, is all about.
Let's hope the festival, the brainchild of Lionel and Alexandra Félix , returns next year bigger and (if possible) even better.
Obsidian Theatre is looking for three writers to be part of a playwrights unit from September to March. The three will meet biweekly with artistic director Philip Akin , the focus being on developing the writer rather than creating a full-length script.
In addition to exploring various ideas that stimulate conversation, members will work on a short piece for workshop production next April.
The unit is for individuals who are or identify themselves as members of the African diaspora.
Applicants should submit a CV or current bio, writing sample and cover letter discussing what they would like to explore as writers and how Obsidian can help. Send these materials to Kimahli Powell , Obsidian Theatre Company, 943 Queen Street East, Toronto M4M 1J6. Deadline is August 27.