Tragedy with a mod­ern-day twist

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - ON STAGE - KATHY MILLER

GREEK tragedy writ­ten in 441BC has been up­dated with mod­ern lan­guage and set in the world of ri­val gangs and night­clubs, star­ring Mark Monero (Steve El­liot in EastEn­ders) as the men­ac­ing, piti­less King Creon.

Antigone is com­ing to Wat­ford Palace The­atre from Tues­day, Novem­ber 4 to Satur­day, Novem­ber 8 at 7.30pm, and 2.30pm on Thurs­day and Satur­day.

Fol­low­ing a civil war, Creon, the new ruler of Thebes, re­fuses to bury the un­ruly Polyne­ices with full mil­i­tary hon­ours and or­ders his body to be left to the crows and worms in­stead.

Antigone, Polyne­ices’ head­strong and

Are­bel­lious sis­ter, de­fies Creon and buries her brother in se­cret, only to be con­demned by Creon to the tor­ture of be­ing buried alive.

Tragedy in­evitably fol­lows in Sopho­cles’ ex­plo­ration of the univer­sal themes of pride, loy­alty, truth, grief and love, but not in the way Creon imag­ines.

Con­tains some strong lan­guage. Not suit­able for un­der-14s.

There will be a post-show Q&A on Wed­nes­day, Novem­ber 5. Tick­ets from £10 to £22.50. Visit www.wat­ford­palacethe­atre.co.uk or call 01923 225 671.

O

NHIS death bed, cel­e­brated land­scape painter and wa­ter­colourist Joseph Mal­lord Wil­liam Turner, who was a di­vi­sive fig­ure in the 19th-cen­tury art world, re­port­edly lamented: “So I am to be­come a non-en­tity.”

Mike Leigh’s im­pec­ca­bly crafted biopic, which con­cen­trates on the fi­nal 25 years of the artist’s ca­reer, en­sures the ge­nius of Turner lives on.

An­chored by a mag­nif­i­cent cen­tral per­for­mance by Ti­mothy Spall, Mr Turner is another glo­ri­ous en­sem­ble piece from the writer-di­rec­tor of Topsy-Turvy and Vera Drake.

De­vel­oped through im­pro­vi­sa­tional work­shops – the trade­mark of Leigh’s film-mak­ing process – the script melds his­tor­i­cal fact with per­sonal in­ter­pre­ta­tion to bur­row deep be­neath the sur­face of the char­ac­ters and ex­pose the de­sires and fears that drove some to great­ness and oth­ers to despair.

When it comes to great­ness, Spall’s em­bod­i­ment of an artist with few so­cial graces and a sur­plus of tal­ent is the stuff that Os­cars were made of.

The London-born ac­tor spent two years learn­ing how to paint like Turner so he could con­vinc­ingly hold a brush and pal­ette in front of the cam­era, al­low­ing Leigh to cap­ture vis­ceral scenes of artis­tic cre­ativ­ity in full flow.

Mr Turner opens with the breathtaking im­age of the artist cap­tur­ing the sun ris­ing over fields in Bel­gium. He re­turns to London and the home he shares with his fa­ther, Wil­liam (Paul Jes­son), and house­keeper, Han­nah Danby (Dorothy Atkin­son).

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two men is sketched in ex­quis­ite, heart-warm­ing de­tail in th­ese early scenes, with Turner warmly em­brac­ing his ‘daddy’.

Turner chan­nels his en­ergy into his work, which con­tin­ues to raise eye­brows at the Royal Academy of Arts.

“The uni­verse is chaotic and you make us see it,” ob­serves Turner’s good friend Mary Somerville (Les­ley Manville).

Dur­ing ex­cur­sions to Mar­gate, Turner meets Mrs Booth (Mar­ion Bai­ley) and her hus­band ( Karl John­son) and rents a room from the cou­ple so he can paint seascapes by the morn­ing light.

The bur­geon­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the artist and Mrs Booth sweet­ens the bit­ter pill of his fa­ther’s death and Turner con­tin­ues to clash with the artis­tic es­tab­lish­ment, rep­re­sented here by Sir John Soane (Ni­cholas Jones) and his co­terie.

Mr Turner is a glo­ri­ous pe­riod piece that of­fers us a glimpse be­hind the can­vasses of a mis­un­der­stood mav­er­ick, who notes at one point: “When I pe­ruse my­self in a look­ing glass, I see a gar­goyle.”

Spall is im­pe­ri­ous and Leigh sur­rounds his lead man with an im­pec­ca­ble sup­port­ing cast of fa­mil­iar faces, in­clud­ing Jes­son as an hon­est, hard-work­ing man of the world who be­lieved ‘the rain falls, the sun shines and the onions grow’ and Atkin­son as the house­keeper who al­lows Turner to use her to sate his sex­ual de­sires.

The 150 min­utes pass too quickly, but the rav­ish­ing cos­tumes and pe­riod de­tail hold our at­ten­tion, as does as a haunt­ing or­ches­tral score by com­poser Gary Yer­shon.

Very nearly a master­piece.

For­mer EastEn­ders ac­tor Mark Monero plays Creon in Antigone

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