The imposing West Park Church is a surprisingly perfect spot to stage Antigone: gloomy and cavernous, like the tomb where the Greek heroine meets her end. It’s also big enough to contain — just barely — the exuberant performances of Martín Santangelo’s Antigona, a flamenco adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy with the virtuosic dancer Soledad Barrio in the title role.
Speaking and singing in Spanish (with English surtitles), the company stamps and swirls its way through the tale of Antigone’s doomed family, proceeding from her problematic parentage (she’s Oedipus’s daughter) to her brothers, who kill each other for the throne. One sibling earns a hero’s funeral. The other — a traitor — is left to rot, until Antigone defies civil laws to perform the burial rites and is condemned herself. Amid rhythmic songs — some dirgelike, some celebratory — Barrio channels Antigone in a series of mesmerizing solos: a mourning dance for her brother, a morbid fantasia wherein she faces her own fate. There’s also the occasional, and much-needed, dose of humor, from a gossipy Ismene (Marina Elana).
Antigona‘s storytelling is somewhat uneven — first heavy-handed, then very light. If you don’t know the plot, you might occasionally lose it. But plot’s hardly the point when the song and the dance are this raucously eloquent. Ancient Greek tragedy was a communal ritual, and Barrio’s company makes it one again.
Adapted and directed by Martín Santangelo
West Park Church
165 West 86th Street