A jingoist and solipsistic leader whose arrogance and insecurity causes the rights of the individual to be violated for what he believes to be the greater good of the state? Is this the subject of a 2000-year-old Greek tragedy or this morning’s headlines? In this moment in history, the relevance and timelessness of Sophocles should be lost on no one. Presenting their “adaptation for a war-torn time, ” Polarity Ensemble Theatre’s highly ambitious “Antigone” has been staged as if it were playing in a 30, 000-seat auditorium, its striking physical production incorporating grand gesticulation, a painstakingly choreographed chorus and arresting stage pictures worthy of movie cinematography. As such, it succeeds as a virtuoso display of theatrical technique but is ultimately missing a straightforward emotional underpinning. Its text, courtesy of playwright and PET artistic director Richard Engling, admirably folds pockets of poetic cadences within a contemporary formality of speech that will be accessible to all. Still, this “Antigone”’s most appreciative audience would be one familiar with the story of the curse of the House of Cadmus: the largesse of its illustrative staging, overpowering in the hyper-intimacy of the Breadline space, frequently distracts from the storytelling. The metallic floor slabs of its playing area, its Nordic monochromatic color palette and its atmospheric music only add to the icy layer of emotional frost that fails to melt by the end of the evening. Nevertheless, like the character of Antigone, the largely imaginative artists behind Polarity Ensemble Theatre seem to be guided by a youthful passion and determination that should lead them to greater things. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
Breadline Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice, (847)293-7705. Thu-Sat 8pm/Sun 7pm. $10-$20. Through March 19.