by John Stoehr
The rain held off long enough for the Nottingham Playhouse to preview The Burial at Thebes at the Cistern tonight (it opens tomorrow). Thebes is a new translation of Sophocles' Antigone, the Greek tragedy, by Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet. What seemed to be a problem turned out not to be a problem at all.
Unfortunately, no one could stop the United States Air Force from sending its screaming jets over the peninsula. This put a stop to the play, literally. The man who played Creon actually paused mid-speech for about 10 seconds. No one could stop the guy collecting empty bottles from making a racket. Nor could anyone do anything, it seemed, about the constant microphone issues that plagued Thebes throughout.
Mics kept cutting in and out. Some didn't work at all. So much depends on the words of the play — action, emotion, denouement, argument. Then there's the beauty of Heaney's translation. It has the same muscular and juicy stuff that made his Beowulf translation so good. If you can't hear those words, then what? When Aristotle saw Antigone, he didn't get frustrated by microphone issues. Perhaps there were things that were out of anyone's control, like rain and screaming air force jets, but at least the sound was good.