by Paula Citron.
The Burial at Thebes
Spoleto Festival USA
Written by Seamus Heaney
Directed by Lucy Pittman-Wallace
Starring Catherine Hamilton and Paul Bentall
There is always at least one production at Spoleto Festival USA that is so powerful it remains embedded in my brain forever. Such a one is Nottingham Playhouse’s The Burial at Thebes.
Seamus Heaney’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2004. The Irish poet/playwright won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, and The Burial at Thebes is an absolute miracle of dramatic language.
Director Lucy Pittman-Wallace has reconfigured the production for the outdoor walled garden of the College of Charleston. The stage sits in front of the classical columns that grace an 18th century campus building, evoking a Greek amphitheatre.
Pitman-Wallace has the chorus sing and dance during their recitations following the practice of ancient Greece. Several of the actors also play musical instruments. The acting is an embarrassment of riches. This production is an example of superb British theatre.
Spoleto Festival USA continues in Charleston, South Carolina, until Jun. 8.