To the Cambridge Greek Play a dozen days ago. Every three years, student actors and a professional directing team put on one or two plays, in the original Greek — this year, a double bill of Antigone (predictably wrenching) and Lysistrata (predictably bawdy and funny) at the Arts Theatre.
And if you think this is bound to be of minority interest, just try to get tickets for one of the eight performances if you don’t book weeks ahead (and if you get tickets, you’ll find yourself in perhaps the most age-mixed audience of any night of the year). There is no attempt to recreate a fake antiquity. The plays are re-imagined, the stagings are modern. In comedies, contemporary references are freely updated, so in Lysistrata, a messenger and magistrate become Donald Trump and Boris Johnson (who end up tap-dancing — don’t ask!). But there is every attempt to get the complex rhythms of the ancient language to sing again (and indeed the chorus does sometimes burst into song), in a way that can be spectacularly effective. Translations-by-surtitles mean you don’t have to rely on dim memories or sneaky glances at the programme, and work brilliantly.
Again, as with the previous Prometheus/Frogs double bill, a fantastic night at the theatre. Creon, who doubled as Donald Trump, and Lysistrata herself were quite outstanding. Though it was just a little sobering to realize that the last time the Cambridge Greek Play did Antigone, a performance that I saw as a schoolboy, was over fifty years ago.
(We thought, though, that we might have been coming down with “a bit of a cold” that evening. And oh heavens, yes. Hardly been able to stir from the house since. Which in my case goes with a woolly brain, and logic not even on the back burner — the light turned right off until today. Apologies to those to whom I promised some revised chapters of IFL2 to look at. I hope to get back to light logical duties tomorrow!)