It's unfortunate that William Marbury's angry, domineering King Creon and Analisa Percuoco's defiant, strong-willed Antigone don't share more stage time in Scott Community College's production of Crossing Acheron: The Tragedy of Antigone. The actors share a similar energy in their performances, creating a palpable tension as the king condemns Antigone to be buried alive for, against his decree, twice attempting to bury her slain brother. Marbury and Percuoco are equally gifted at gleaning emotional meaning out of director/author Laura Winton's Greek-tragedy adaptation and delivering their words with conviction, and their performances and chemistry are so captivating that they left me hoping the two will appear in a future production that involves more interaction between them.
It's also unfortunate that we can't see at least half of Percuoco's performance (and about a third of the play), as technical designer Jacob Hanan has chosen not to light the scenes in which Antigone is locked in a tomb. While the idea is a valid one, allowing the audience to experience the same darkness as Antigone does, it was, to me, maddening in practice. For much of Thursday's Crossing Acheron presentation, I also wished for more movement from the actors, as Winton has her cast members act with their voices, but rarely their bodies. Too often, they're seen standing around, sometimes shifting their weight from foot to foot, without really doing anything other than speaking. It isn't until Antigone's scenes in her tomb that we finally get to witness an actor moving about and emoting physically - except that we really don't. The only way I could tell Percuoco was moving was due to the red glow emanating from the performance space's exit sign and the fading sunlight slipping through the imperfectly placed pieces of paper covering the windows. Thanks to these (likely) unintended light sources, we could at least see costume designer Arta Fazliu's white veil and a small section of what remains of Antigone's white tulle wedding gown moving about the stage area, but that's not enough to prevent the audience from missing out on what, based on her earnest deliveries, I'm guessing are Percuoco's finest scenes.
Winton's adaptation, in my estimation, is also problematic. While the sections employing Sophocles' original work are poetic and stirring, Winton's inclusion of analytical texts written by George Bataille and Judith Butler diminished my experience. Admittedly, I did learn a few things about Antigone's motivation and situation as they relate to gender roles, and the significance of her tomb as a bridal chamber. But I fall on the side of preferring that art not be explained to me, as a strength of art is one's individual interpretation of it. These passages, read by Winton as Crossing Acheron's narrator, would be better left for the Q&A sessions following each performance.
At least the problems here are with the play, not the players. John R. Turner's Tiresias, the blind seer who warns King Creon of the consequences of his actions, orates commendably, while the gentle-spirited deliveries of Colin Hepner's "Leader of the Chorus" (though in reality he's the entire chorus) seem to amicably invite to the audience to experience the tale with him. Though Austin Stone seems limited by what registers as self-uncertainty, there's obvious talent beneath his stiff movements; Stone suggests that he's up to the task of characterizing King Creon's son and Antigone's fiancé Haemon, but requires more direction to deliver the performance he's clearly capable of. And there continues to be something about Sara Bolet that I find unusually charming. Though I prefer Bolet's humor (which was showcased in Scott Community College's The Actor's Nightmare in 2012), when her Ismene pleads with sister Antigone to stop her attempts at burying their brother, the character elicits sympathy thanks to the performer's commitment to the role.
With its running time of a little over an hour, Crossing Acheron: The Tragedy of Antigone isn't all that long. However, its overwhelmingly long scenes set in the dark, and its narration that made the production feel more like a college lecture than a theatrical performance, made its length seem like twice that amount. At least.
Crossing Acheron: The Tragedy of Antigone runs at Scott Community College's Student Life Center (500 Belmont Road, room #2400 through exterior door #5, Bettendorf) through April 19, and more information is available by e-mailing Steve Flanigin at firstname.lastname@example.org.