'ANTIGONE IN THE AMAZON' TRIUMPHS IN AVIGNON| 18 July 2023
After its world premiere in Ghent on 13 May, and passages in Vienna and Frankfurt, among others, Antigone in the Amazon by Milo Rau and NTGent landed on 16 July at the Festival d'Avignon in southern France, one of Europe's most important theatre festivals.
Images, text and sound form an imperial chain, writes leading newspaper Le Monde, which talks about a "masterful" performance. "Not one video that doesn't hit the mark. Not one word that does not enhance the images. Not one movement on stage that does not resonate with the images. The realisation sets in that theatre, when it moves so far out of its comfort zone, makes one experience and understand something that is so much bigger than itself, and that we are."
The blog Toute La Culture talks about "great theatre", at once "baroque and earthy":
"Milo Rau is the king of woes in fiction. He alone succeeds in making us believe that a body dying on stage is really dying (...) The play is documentary, it informs us (...) but at the same time it is grand theatre. The direction is insanely good. Arne de Tremerie is heart-wrenching as Haimon, and Sara De Bosschere a disturbing Kréon. The video images, superb they are, offer magisterial moments. Brazilian Antigone (Kay Sara) has raw power, and with good reason: she, she actually says no."
The important Paris cultural magazine Télérama calls the work director Milo Rau "magnificently responsible", and Rau himself "a fiery fighter against everything that cheats our democracy and our freedom, a ferocious craftsman who makes art that responds directly to the world, theatre as direct and simple as a punch in the face, spitting reality in the face with its own lies, its inequalities, its injustice and its discrimination."
Respected critic of Libération, Anne Diatkine, put it this way: "A total spectacle, as militant as it is mesmerizing".
"Milo Rau makes the audience dialogue with the absent like no other," writes Diatkine. "He gives the feeling that the conversations (between the actors on stage and on video) are taking place here and now and brings the images to life (...) It is Milo Rau's art that he manages to transcend a theatre that could only have been militant and didactic with an epiphany."
"Theatre may not have the healing powers we would like to attribute to it, but directed in this way by Milo Rau, with a unique punch, it connects continents and people, and even the living with the dead," the French newspaper La Croix concludes.
'Antigone in the Amazon' can be seen at Festival d'Avignon until 24 July and then continues its tour. On 13 and 14 October 2023, the play can be seen again at NTGent Schouwburg.