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The Burial at Thebes | translation by Heaney |

It is now receiving its first major New York City production with Irish Repertory Theatre at the DR2 Theatre the play officially debuted in the city during a brief off-off-Broadway run with the now-defunct Handcart Ensemble. While the Irish Rep's take eschews the half-face masks of that earlier production, it feels no less cold and distant, strongly suggesting that this tone comes baked into the text. The play begins at the end of the Theban civil war. The two sons of Oedipus, Eteocles, and Polyneices have killed each other in combat, leaving their uncle, Creon Paul O'Brien , in command of the city.

He has decreed that Eteocles who defended the city from attack get a hero's burial, but that Polyneices the attacker be left to rot in the Mediterranean sun.

The Burial at Thebes

He further rules that anyone who defies this order be put to death. Surviving sister Antigone Rebekah Brockman disobeys Creon anyway so that Polyneices can pass to the underworld in peace. Creon angrily enforces his law, entombing Antigone alive. Blind prophet Tiresias the eerie and sage-like Robert Langdon Lloyd cautions that this course of action can only anger the Gods, but Creon remains unmoved. He hurtles toward the play's tragic conclusion with an overpowering hubris, that most classical of fatal flaws.

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Although written in , the play generally proceeds in a manner consistent with an ancient Greek drama: There are extended monologues about the exciting things happening offstage, moralistic proclamations from the chorus, and oodles of self-pity from the principal players. It's hard to see what new revelations Heaney has brought to Antigone. While the Nobel laureate has an immense talent for imagery particularly when it comes to the subject of bird droppings, described several times in vivid detail , it feels like pretty window dressing on an old house.

In lieu of offering a deeper understanding, Heaney has taken Sophocles' 2,year-old family-versus-state drama and turned it into a polemic against the George W. Bush administration, which, in the process, saps it of all nuance. Heaney was clear about the fact that one of his motivations in adapting this well-worn play was the parallel between Creon's obstinacy and President Bush's with-us-or-against-us approach to the Iraq War.

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No matter how wrong Creon is he continues to double-down on his bad decisions until it is too late. Yet it's hard to see how contemporary theatergoers could have much compassion for a character that is essentially a highborn religious fanatic.

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Brockman's wild-eyed portrayal of Antigone the one thing keeping this play from being entirely one-sided smacks of an American-born ISIS bride. She's whiny and entitled as one would expect from a princess , coloring her royal privilege with a deep shade of martyrdom.

Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in Robert Lowell praised Heaney as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats. Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices. About the author. Sophocles Related Links. From the Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Latest on Facebook Facebook.

The Burial at Thebes