“Antigone” at the In Scena! Italian Theatre Festival NY

Debora Benincasa Photo by Andrea Macchia

Debora Benincasa Photo by Andrea Macchia

  • Max Berry, Contributing Critic - New York City

Telling the classic story of the doomed daughter of Oedipus, Debora Benincasa’s one-woman adaptation of “Antigone” is incredibly refreshing. Beginning with an acknowledgement that we are about to watch a play, this version of “Antigone” sets the tone of the piece right away. Benincasa brings great humor and thoughtfulness to a piece that is typically tragic and free of much laughter. She knows this too, even encouraging you to recall sad things like your spouse leaving you or your mother yelling at you in order to get you  in the right frame of mind, because, as she says, it’s a tragedy, afterall.

Benincasa is a force to behold as the title character. Bringing a bold and unyielding energy coupled with spot on comedic timing, you’ll be laughing within the first couple minutes and likely won’t stop for a good portion of the show. The show begins with what might be the most entertaining retelling of Oedipus Rex that I have ever seen. Benincasa acts out each character and provides spot on commentary about the story as she hurriedly tries to move through it and get to the actual story at hand, which for a good portion of it, is just as humorous and entertaining.

Don’t let the initial hilarity fool you, Benincasa’s “Antigone” is still a tragedy. When the play needs to slow down and stop making jokes, it takes that time. Benicasa’s dramatic moments are just as, if not more, impactful than the humorous ones. It being a monologue, we aren’t distracted by other characters hustling and bustling about and are really trapped in the extreme pain of this woman who has already lost so much. Benincasa really gets to show off her range as an actress here and it is incredibly moving. It all leads up to a finale that will have you on the edge of your seat and longing for the jokes at the beginning of the piece. Of course, now there is nothing to joke about.

Benincasa’s “Antigone” is a thrilling new adaptation that adds a modern twist as well as a more in depth telling of the inner thoughts of the title character. It’s a piece that will surely have you laughing, crying, and by the end, completely shaken.

“Antigone” was written and performed by Debora Bnincasa. It was directed by Amedeo Anfuso.

It was performed with the “In Scena! Italian Theatre Festival” on May 8th at 6:00PM at The Brick Theatre in Brooklyn and May 11 at 6:00 PM at Bernie Wohl Center in Manhattan