After their debut in February, the Antigone Collective return with their second show, The Eternal Future. In the Basement of the Picturehouse, the Eternal Future follows World War II survivors Alexander (Alex Scott) and Barbara (Erin Robinson), who move to Paris in order to pursue their Marxist dream. They share in the history of those dark years of conflict and there are plenty of similarities between the two, eventually lead to a romantic relationship. Though struggling with mental illness, Alex refuses to believe that he requires help. Slowly the tension between the two escalates , leading to an unexpected ending.
If the show itself is a diamond, then it is, unfortunately, an uncut one. The show is heavily dominated by monologues; which intends to bring out the beautiful script written by Sam Hickford. However, the venue is far from ideal for these diegetic set pieces as the intimate setting encourages a certain level of interaction between actor and audience which the play could not deliver. Early on when the audience responded to the plot with laughter, it clearly disrupted the fluidity of the play. At times, monologues were difficult to follow as they largely concerned the history of Alex’s family. While these were helped to understand Alex’s behavior and get a hold of his history, the lack of involvement of the characters in his story provided little help for audience to settle in.
Robinson’s Barbara was one of the few highlights of the night alongside Miranda Batki-Braun’s portrayal of Alexander’s mother
Scott’s performance of Alexander was a mismatch. A complicated character, Alexander suffers from a poor relationship with his parents and struggles to find the right balance between his Catholicism and Marxist ideals. His performance seemed hesitant in the beginning stages of the play, and although later on he was more at ease with his character, his appearance and posture was unable to express the psychological complexity of Alexander. It has little to do with his skills and talent, rather, it is an unfortunate incompatibility between the soul of the character and Scott.
Robinson’s Barbara was one of the few highlights of the night alongside Miranda Batki-Braun’s portrayal of Alexander’s mother. Despite the fact that Robinson seemed to be unable to fully express her character’s past trauma, her performance was powerful and engaging, as she was able to occasionally create tension single-handedly with a dynamic performance . Batki-Braun was given merely three scenes at the beginning of the play, but proved her mettle in raising Scott’s performance at times when he was seemingly shrinking from carrying the play all by himself.
The venue placed considerable limitations on the cast
It felt as if the production was constrained by the venue and the sheer volume of monologues with the exception of Batki-Braun, other members of the ensemble such as Kirsty Henley-Washford, Michael Brennan, Ricky Jones and Alastair Ellerington were given extremely limited stage time. The effect was an inability for these actors to leave a strong impression or strengthen the dynamic of the performance. The venue placed considerable limitations on the cast, noticeably when most of the ensemble had to remain on stage while taking no part in the story, rather than being able to retreat backstage smoothly.
It was a shame that, whilst the beauty of the language in the script was evident throughout, various aspects including the venue, the nature of the play and mismatch between actors and characters all hampered the quality of the production. Despite these, the feeling of “what a great miss” is a proof of not only the unfulfilled potential of Antigone Collective, but also their dedication of exploring human rights related issues. Such motivation, I am sure, would bring them more success in the future.