Antigone at the Barbican (2015) Script

Welcome to the Barbican in East London, and a story of royal strife, tyranny and death.

In a triumphant return to the London stage, French actress Juliette Binoche plays the title role of Antigone, daughter of King Oedipus. Written by Sophocles, perhaps the greatest playwright of ancient Greece, in about 440 BC, Antigone is the tragic story of a sister who buries her dead brother against the wishes of her uncle, King Kreon.

Award-winning director Ivo van Hove's production transports us to a stark, authoritarian state, where the rule of law is more important than loyalty to family, faith or culture.

The issues it raises are strikingly relevant - the conflict between secular and religious laws, the relationship between the state and the individual, and our intense human need to mourn the dead.

Today's news is full of families desperate to bring home the bodies of loved ones from conflict or disaster, and the threat posed by authoritarian regimes and fundamentalist beliefs dominate the headlines.

This is the latest in a series of Greek tragedies to hit the London stage. In his minimal production, Ivo van Hove has pared down the cast, with the main characters doubling up as members of the chorus, who comment on the action as the story unfolds.

The play opens as the brothers of Antigone, heirs of Oedipus, lie dead after a battle for the control of Thebes.

Now their uncle, King Kreon, is in charge, and Antigone faces an impossible choice.


We come out of the dark.

Oh, Ismene.

Oh, one and only sister whose blood intersects with my own, in too many ways.

Ever since we were born from the evils of Oedipus, what bitterness, pain, disgust, disgrace or moral shock have we been spared?

And now this edict.

You've heard the edict? Or are you unaware of the evils coming on us?

I've heard no news at all, neither sweet nor bitter.

That our two brothers are dead by one another's hands and the Argive army gone from this city is all I know.

That's what I thought.

That's why I called you out here. What's the matter?

You have your thunder look.

Kreon is resolved to honour one of our brothers with burial, the other not.

Eteocles he has laid in the ground in accordance with justice and law.

Polyneikes is to lie unwept and unburied, sweet, sorry meat for the little last of the birds.

Good Kreon draws our attention to this edict, yours and my attention.

Whoever transgresses it gets death.

So what do you say?

Will you show what you're made of? What could I show?

What could I say, what could I do, that would make any difference?

If you join me. If you join my action. At what risk?

Where is your mind? If you help me. Help me lift the corpse.

You mean bury him? When it's forbidden?

Dear sister, my dead are mine, and yours as well as mine.

Do what you like, but I will not betray him.

Kreon says the act is unlawful.

Antigone says it's not Kreon's business.

Oh, sister! Don't cross this line!

Whoever we are, think!


Father's daughter.

Daughter's brother, sister's mother, mother's son.

His mother and his wife were one.

Our family is doubled, tripled, degraded and dirty in every direction.

He shattered his own eyeballs so as not to see it, and now our brothers lie slain by one another's hands.

So that's it!

We two are alone.

Moreover, we're girls.

Girls cannot force their way against men.

I'm sure the dead will forgive me if I obey those in power.

You always push the limit!

Limits are there for a reason. You know what, Ismene?

I wouldn't take your help now if you asked me.

Yet I will bury him, and this is right to do, though I die for it.

One day, we'll lie together in the grave, he and I, side by side, for death is long.

Death is very long.

You go on worrying about the gods of life! I must worry!

I'm powerless. Good excuse.

Well, I'm off.

A brother needs burying. I fear for you.

Don't bother. Well, at least keep this secret.

Oh, no. Proclaim it to all!

I insist! Your heart is so hot. Oh, sister!

The dead are cold, they'll welcome me.

You're someone in love with the impossible.

And when my strength is gone, I'll stop. This is utterly wrong.

Don't say that.

Or I'll have to hate you.

He will hate you too.

Just let me go.

For I'll not suffer anything so grievous as to rob me of a noble death. Go, then.

But know, although you go without your mind, you go as one beloved.

The glories of the world come sharking in, all red and gold.

We won the war.

Salvation struts the streets of seven-gated Thebes.

The man from Argos fled.

The one who swung above our land on snow-white screams, the one who overweened our walls, Polyneikes.

Zeus hates a boaster.

So an ocean of them coming at us, raised his hand, they hit the ground.

They were the man from Argos.

War made them all insane.

Seven gates, and in each gate a man, and in each man a death.

At the seventh gate, two brothers grew into each other's hearts as pain.

Now victory is ours, let there be forgetting.

Let Thebes shake with joy.

But here comes Kreon, rolling his new policies into place.

What new policies, I wonder?

And why has he called us here so formally?


First, let me say, our city is safe again today.

Although a violent storm passed through, the gods have set us upright.

It's my view to steer a city, you need top-notch advisers.

And you can't be afraid to say what you think.

That's my view, as I say, and always has been.

But another thing, and this is important - if a man puts family or friends ahead of fatherland, I count him absolutely good for nothing.

Here's my edict concerning Oedipus' sons.

For Eteocles, patriot champion, hero of our city, our decree is burial, with every kind of holy honour owed to the best of the dead below.

For his brother, Polyneikes, who came back from exile meaning to burn us to the ground, to eat our blood, to throw us into slavery.

For this man, our decree is he shall have no grave.

No-one will bury him.

No-one will mourn him.

No-one will utter a cry.

Leave him out for the birds to peck and the dogs to chew and the eye to be outraged at.

Evildoers have no status in my city.

This is a place for law-abiding men.

Whoever is loyal, alive or dead, will have honour from me.

If that's what you want to do, Kreon, do it.

You have the power.

You can use the law as you like, both for the dead and all of us who are living.

But now it's for you to keep watch on all this.

Oh, can't you ask a younger man?

HE LAUGHS I don't mean watch the grave.

I've got people doing that already.

So what are your orders? Be careful you don't collaborate with anyone disloyal to me. Who could be so rash, so suicidal?

Exactly. But there is such a thing as blind hope.

Not to mention bribery.

King, here I am, and I admit, I am not out of breath.

I can't say I hurried.

In fact, I stopped many times on the road and thought to go back, saying to myself, "You fool. What are you doing?

"Why are you going? You know you'll suffer."

Saying to myself, "Wretch, don't keep stopping. If Kreon finds out

"about all of this from somebody else, you're finished."

Back and forth I argued with me.

It was a long trip on a slow road, but finally I decided I'd come and tell what I have to tell.

Oh, how bad can it be?


What's the problem? Well, first, let me say first, I didn't do it.

I don't know who did it. I shouldn't pay the price for this.

Stop hedging. Give me your news. It's terrible news, is why I hesitate. You goat's anus, talk! OK.

The corpse - someone buried it.

Someone threw dust on it.

Someone did all the required holy stuff.

What are you saying?

What man would have dared? I have no idea.

Was the ground hard and dry? Yes.

Was there any mark or scratch or so much as a wagon's rut? No.

Whoever did that, he left no clue.

We were all in shock. You can't see the body any more.

There's no real burial mound, just light dust covering it, but enough to clear the curse.

No sign of animals or dogs or depredation.

So then we fell to shouting.

Guard against guard, we fell to blows, each of us was the guilty one. No-one for sure, who could be sure?

We were ready for the red hot iron, each of us swearing to the gods, "I didn't do it, I know nothing," getting nowhere, when someone said, "Better tell Kreon."

And we all stood paralysed, staring at the ground.

We knew he was right, it couldn't be hushed up.

So lucky me, we all drew lots, and here I am.

I don't want to see you, you don't want to see me, but here I am.

You know, King, it's been my feeling for a long time now that gods are mixed up in this somehow. Don't say another word.

And don't be that stupid. Gods mixed up in this?

You demented old men.

You think the gods buried him for his good intentions?

You think the gods give him a prize for citizenship despite the fact that he came to burn their temples down?

You think the gods find gangsters like that honourable?

Well, here's a simple truth. I'll say it one time.

You're wrong.

Gods didn't do this.

But there are men who would try, men who don't like me.

Men who murmur and fret and chafe under my government, men who might well lead a guard or a watchman astray with a bit of a bribe.

In fact, now that I think of it, that's exactly what happened.

Money is a nasty invention, isn't it?

Ruins cities and men, turns good minds to bad.

And has discovered every crime and misdemeanour known to human beings.

Whoever took a bribe to do this deed will pay the price.

Now you listen, I swear by Zeus himself - yes, I still honour Zeus - if you don't find and bring to me the guilty man, I'll make you beg for death.

I'll have you hanging by your thumbs till you confess, you greedy, pissant little amateur terrorist.

Can I say something, or should I just go? LAUGHTER You're treading a very thin line.

Would you say it's your ears or your mind that finds me annoying?

Do you really want to test my mood like this?

Well, because I mean if it's the ears, blame me, but if it's the mind, blame the man who did the deed!

You were born already babbling, weren't you? Yes, but I wasn't born to do this deed. Yet you did.

They bribed you, they bought your soul. No, it's a lie!

It's a deadly, awful lie! Of course you would say that.

Well, produce the perpetrator or you're guilty.

Sure, we'll find the guy, but if we don't? Let's say he gets lucky.

There is no way you'll ever see me here again.

Right now I just say thank gods I'm still alive.


Many things strange, terrible, clever, wondrous, monstrous, marvellous, dreadful, awful, and weird there are in the world.

But none more strange, terrible, clever, uncanny, wondrous, monstrous, marvellous, dreadful, awful, and weird than man.

He sails across the sea in blasting winter.

He ploughs the inexhaustible earth year after year.

The race of birds, the tribes of beasts, the underwater creatures, all he drives into his net, this clever man.

He masters animals that roam the hills and puts wild horses to the yoke or mountain bulls.

He uses thought and language and the tempering of these.

He knows to shelter from the frost and rain, and how to shun disease.

He answers every question put to him.

Every question put to him but one.

To death he has no answer.

From death he finds no exit.

Oh, yes, he is ingenious.

An ingenuity leading now to good, now to bad.

But the man who honours the laws of the land, the man who keeps the justice of gods, walks high in his high city.

Cityless he becomes if he takes it upon himself to do wrong.

I would not have this person at my hearth, nor share in his opinions.

Is there something supernatural going on here? I think there is.

I fear there is.

Here's Antigone.

I can't deny it.

Oh, you poor, awful child of poor, awful Oedipus.

Why did they drag you here, like a criminal?

Surely, it wasn't you who defied the king's law.

This is the one, she did it, she did the deed. We caught her burying him.

Where's Kreon?

Here's Kreon.

Perfect timing. Here's Kreon - perfect for what?

Well, King - miracles do happen.

I swore I wouldn't come back, but I did, and it's the last thing I expected, but here I am and pretty pleased, because...I caught her!

She's the one. I caught her - she did it.

She was fiddling with the grave.

No more casting lots this time, just my own unique and personal good luck, so there you have it. She's the one you want.

Take her, try her, convict her. I'm off the hook.

Fiddling? What you mean, fiddling? Explain how you caught her.

She was burying him, that's all I know.

Are you absolutely sure of what you're saying?

The corpse...?

The illegal...

I SAW her burying him! What more do you want?

Burying him how, when, where did you see her? How did you catch her?

Details, I want DETAILS! Details, OK.

You threatened me, I went back, washed off all the dust.

Left that body bare.

We sat up on a hill.

Was it hot? Yes.

Was there putrefaction and vermiculation?


Was there noon sun stink? Yes. Did I doze off? No. I did not.

We were keeping each other awake with jibes and banter.

And time, oh, time went by.

Time went by and the huge white sun in the centre of the sky and all of a sudden, a storm blew up, a... pillar of dust, all the way to the sky, a wind tore the hair of the trees and all the place was vibrating.

We shut our eyes. Was it a god sent this?

I sneaked a look - there she was. The child.

Making that weird little bird sound.

You know how they cry when they see the nest empty.

So she cried seeing the body bare.

So she cried and called down curses on whoever did the deed.

Then she pours water onto the body with both hands, she pours dust onto the body with both hands, three libations to crown the corpse.

And we rush out and take her.

She seems unsurprised.

She denies nothing.

It made me sad.

But also happy. Sad for her, happy for me.

Self-preservation is my natural philosophy.

And you, with your head down, you're the one who did this deed, you do not deny it?

I did the deed, I do not deny it.


You're a lucky man.


Answer me this, and no long speeches.

You knew this deed to be forbidden by decree... Of course I did.

And yet you dared to disobey the law? Well, if you call that law...

I do.

Zeus does not.

Justice does not.

What they call law did not begin today or yesterday, when they say law, they do not mean a statute of today or yesterday, they mean the unwritten, unfaltering, unshakeable ordinances of the gods.

That no human being can ever wrap round - these laws live forever.

No-one knows how they were born.

You thought I would transgress them for fear of some mere mortal man's decree?


Of course I will die.

Kreon or no Kreon...

Death is fine, death...has no pain.

To leave my mother's son lying out there, unburied, that would be pain.

You say this is folly, I say...

Who knows folly better than a fool?


..we have a piece of iron, baked in the fire until it's super hard.

I can show you how to smash it.

I've seen highly spirited horses broken to a tiny, tiny bit.

Slaves shouldn't think big.

I don't care if she is my sister's child or someone closer to me than my whole family, I don't care if she's protected by Zeus.

She won't evade doom.

Neither she, nor her sister...

Oh, I know they're in it together.

Why don't you call that one out here, too? I saw her just now, in the house, getting hysterical.

So, the criminal mind betrays itself, does it not?

I hate secrets!

I hate people who try to glamorise a crime once they're caught.

What do you desire, other than my death?

Nothing whatsoever.

Then can we get this over with?

I take no pleasure in your words.

Nor you in mine.

And yet, what greater glory could I win than to lay my own brother in his grave?

These people here would all agree with me if they weren't terrified!

One-man rule has its advantages, doesn't it?

You're the only person in Thebes who sees things this way.

No, actually they all do, but you've nailed their tongues to the floor.

You're not ashamed. No shame in honouring one's kin.

Wasn't the other brother your kin, too? Same mother, same father.

Yet you don't mind disgracing him. He will not cause disgrace.

Of course he will - you're honouring his enemy.

It was no slave that died, it was his brother.

The one a criminal, the other a defender of our land.

Death needs... to have death's laws... obeyed! The same law, for good and evil, patriot and traitor?

Who knows how these definitions work down there?

Enemy is always enemy! Alive or dead.

I am someone born to share in love.

Not hatred.

Then go down below and lavish your love on the dead.

I will not be bested by a woman.

Here's Ismene. She seems to be weeping, flushed and troubled.


You've been sneaking round my house, sucking me dry, planning ruin and subversion - the two of you come clean and tell me, you joined her in this burial, did you not?

Or will you claim ignorance? I did the deed.

I share the blame, just ask her.


Justice forbids this!

You did nothing, you shared nothing.

I am not ashamed to help you in your trouble. Who did the deed?

The actual deed?

Ask Hades, or ask the dead below.

I don't like this sudden sympathy of yours. It's all words!

Please! Sister...

Do not exclude me from the right to die with you and share our brother's requiem.

Leave my death alone.

You did not lay a hand on this, you cannot make it yours.

For me to die is altogether adequate.

I'll be so lonely.

Apply to Kreon, he's your main concern, anyway.

Why are you so nasty?

How does it help you?

You're right, it doesn't help.

I simply pain myself when I mock you.

Can I not help you?

Somehow? Save yourself!

I do not grudge you this. No! No!

Am I to miss out on your destiny? You chose life, I choose death.

But I told you, and told you and told you not to.

Yes, you did, and that made sense for you, but THIS makes sense for me.

Yet look...

We too are equally at fault.

Take heart and live.

Ismene... my soul died long ago.

So it might serve the dead. Look at them.

Now they're crazy, both of them - this one's been that way since she was born. It's true, King.

Bad conditions make people lose their minds!

As you did when you chose to side with a criminal.

How could I go on in life without her?

Don't mention her! She is no more.

Will you execute your own son's bride?

He'll find other ruts to plough. He won't find anyone else like her.

To think of that marriage makes me sick.

Dearest Haimon, how your father disregards you!

Enough talk of beds, it's disgusting.

You really will take her away from him? Death will do the taking.

So it's settled, then?

Antigone dies? We both know that - don't waste my time.

Take them inside!

And tie them up - yet no more free running them and even the boldest of them will take to their heels if they see death nearby.

Blessed be they whose lives do not taste of evil...

..but if some God shakes your house, ruin arrives, ruin does not leave.

It comes tolling over the generations, it comes rolling the black night silt up from the ocean floor...

..and oil-thrashed coasts groan.

Archives of grief I see falling upon this house.

Death on birth, birth on death.

There is no end to it.

Some God is piling them on.

Zeus, you win.

You always win.

The whole oxygen of power belongs to you.

Sleep cannot seize it.

Time does not tire it.

Your Mount Olympus glows like one white stone upon this law...

Nothing vast enters the lives of mortals without ruin.

But of course, there is hope.

Look... Here comes hope, wandering in to tickle your feet!

Then you notice the souls on fire.

A wise word - if you find you are confusing evil with good, some God is heading you down the high road to ruin.

Watch out.

Here comes Haimon, your youngest son.

Does he come in pain and rage, cheated of his future bride?


Are you going to rage against your father, child, or...

..are we still friends?


I'm yours.

I trust your judgment, no marriage could outweigh this.

Good attitude, Son.

Good heart in your chest.

A father needs a son to back him up.

This is why men beget sons, to harm their enemies and honour their friends.

Some children are useless, some are just trouble and who would disagree - this makes people laugh at their father.

A fact of life. I'll say to you now, I'll say it one time.

When you lay yourself under a pleasure female...

..their pleasure goes cold soon enough.

She's an open wound in your house and your life...

She's an enemy.

Spit her out, let her go seduce some boy in hell.

You know, she disobeyed me.

Publicly and flagrantly, alone!

Out of all the city.

And I will not be made a liar. I'll put her to death, let her call on Zeus and blood and kinship - who cares?

Should I nourish disorder within my own family?

How then control those outside it?

A man who runs his household right can run a government.

He is staunch in war, loyal in action.

On the other hand, someone who flouts the laws or thinks to give instruction to the rulers, him I do not praise.

If the city set up a man to rule it, I say that man must be obeyed.

In small things and just things, and the opposite of these - anarchy!

What greater evil, anarchy is what ruins cities and houses and battle plans.

Obedience saves lives.

Obedience must be defended.

And never, never, NEVER let ourselves be bested by a woman.


The gods grow minds in men as the most precious equipment they have.

Yet... I could not, would not, do not know how to say you are wrong.

Who knows? It might all turn out fine.

But surely, my job is to keep a close watch on everything people do or say or want to complain about?

Why, your dread eye, your displeasure, what people say... Well...

You wouldn't want to hear the kind of things they say, but... But I can listen.

From the shadows.

This girl, through the town - there is grief.

They call her wonderful.

Most glorious of deeds, most terrible of deaths, they say.

She only chose to keep her brother's body from raw-flesh-eating dogs, to keep it from the birds.

This sort of talk.

Oh, I don't know.

From the shadows...

Nothing is more precious to me than your happiness, Father.

For a son to be proud of his father, a father proud of his son.

What could be better?

But, please...

Don't be so absolutely single-minded.

Whoever imagines he alone is the one who knows how to think or speak or feel, that an empty page.

There is nothing shameful in being a person able to learn.

Flexible, not...too rigid.

You've seen trees bend in a storm. That's how they save the branches.

The stubborn ones... get ripped out by the roots.

In sailing, too.

If you haul your sheets taut, you'll capsize the boat.

Let go your anger, Father.

Give a bit.

I'm young, yes, but I'm pretty sure of this.

No single human being has perfect knowledge.

Most of us would be wise now and then to take advice.

Well, King - he hit the nail on the head a few times there.

You could learn something from him.

And you from him.

Me, at my age, go to school and get wisdom from this stripling?

You would learn nothing unjust. Nothing unjust, to honour anarchy?

I do not honour anarchy. Is the girl not tainted with that malady?

The whole city of Thebes says otherwise.

Shall Thebes prescribe to me how I should rule? Listen to yourself.

You sound like a boy dictator.

Whom else should the government depend on?

No city belongs to a single man.

Surely a city BELONGS to its ruler?

Why not find a desert and rule all alone?

This fellow, it seems, is the woman's toy.

If you are the woman, it's you I care for. How shameless!

Thou utter miscreant, to prosecute thine own father? Yes!

For I see you doing wrong. Wrong?

To respect mine own prerogatives?

You don't respect, you trample on the prerogatives of the gods.

You're polluted...

Oh, dastard nature. I'll subject to a woman!

But not subject to injustice. All thy words plea for her.

And for you, and for me and for the gods below.

Thou canst never marry her this side the grave.

Then she'll die and take another with her!

Doth thy boldness push thee even to threats?


What threats?

I merely point out your judgment is bad.

Thou shalt rue the day of thy witless teaching.

If you weren't my father, I'd say you'd lost your mind.

A woman's chattel? Seek not to tickle me.

You talk and talk and never listen.

Sayest thou!

Well, now I say thou shall revile me to thy cost.

Fetch the deluded thing.

Let her die, hard against her bridegroom -




No. Never.

If I am near, she will not die and you'll never see my face again.


Rage on...mad man.

Well, he's gone.

In anger and pain!

A young man like that...

Who KNOWS what he'll do?

Let him go.

Big man.

I have executions to perform.

Two of them.

You mean to kill both girls?

No, you're right, just the meddlesome one.

How will you do it?

I'll find her a desert in the neighbourhood...

I'll bury her alive.

With a bit of food, just enough to avoid the pollution...

..a sort of sacred technicality...

No doubt if she prays hard, the gods of death will save her life.

Or else, she'll learn she picked the wrong gods.


I'm having my own doubts about the laws of the land.

I no longer can restrain the stream of tears when I see Antigone here passing through to the room that we all go in the end.

Look at me, people.

I go my last road.

I see my last light, look!

Death... who gathers all of us into his all bent arms in the end is gathering me, but I am still alive.

No wedding...

No wedding song, no wedding chamber...

Yet I shall lie as a bride in the bed of the river of death while I am still alive...

Oh, yes!

But won't you win glory?

Won't you be praised? It's not as if you're dying of disease or war.

You chose to live autonomous, and so you die.

The only one of mortals to go down to death alive.

What about Niobe? I'd heard that she has a living death like me.

Inside a piece of rock, for a mountain grows over her like ivy and the rain and snow run down her face.

She is laid to bed like me by some divinity...

But Niobe was a god, born of gods. We are mortal, born of mortals.

And yet what a great thing, to share your story with divinity while you live and while you die.

Are you mockers of me, you grabbing old man?

Are you laughers at me though I am not yet gone?


Springs of the rivers of Thebes...

..Oh, reaches of the plains of Thebes...

..bear me witness...

No-one sheds a tear for me as I go to my strange new grave.

No-one knows what kind of laws they are that sentence me.

Nor what kind of tomb it is I go to.

I'm a strange new kind of in-between thing, aren't I?

Not at home with the dead, nor with the living.

You're too extreme.

You reckless girl, you can't simply kick justice out of the way and given your father's history, I'd say...'re paying off his debts.

Oh, there...

You touched the deepest, bitterest place in me.


For my father!

All that ploughing in the dark and the brilliant house of Labdacus gone down in it.

Father, Mother...

Mother's son - it all went wrong.

From what kind of badness was I born? Accursed!


Oh, my brother...

How you despoil me by your death.

Well, piety is nice, but authority is authority.

You have in you a kind of... absolute, exclusive self-regarding rage.

It has destroyed you.

And wept. Unwed, unloved I go...

The road is there before me.

This light of day is not for my eyes any more.

Who will lament me?

No-one will lament me!

If people could lament their own deaths right up until they died, no-one would ever stop.

I've told you how to prison her in rock and leave her there to die - or live - as she sees fit.

We are clean of this girl.

Her privileges on Earth are here revoked.



Oh, bridal chamber!

Oh, house in the ground!


I go to you.

I go to meet my people, now numbered among the dead.




I am the last and worst of you.

Open your arms to me, dear ones.

I buried you all.

Even you, Polyneikes.

I lifted and washed you and... made you lovely.

And this is my reward.

People ask...

..would I have done it for a husband or a child?

My answer is no, I would not.

People ask...

..what law requires this?

I say...

..a husband or a child can be replaced.

But who can grow me a new brother?

This is the law!

I honoured before everything...

..and Kreon calls me criminal.

He says I like to fondle strange and reckless things!


Beloved brother...

He is taking me away.

SHE SOBS I never had the bridal bed.

I never had a bridal song.

I never had the love of children.

I'm alone on my insides.

And I go down to death though I am still alive.

What kind of justice is this?

Why look to gods?

Why hope for allies?

They call my piety impiety.

I say, fine... if the gods do really approve of this, I'll recognise my error soon enough.

But if these men here are the criminals, may they suffer exactly what they are doing to me!

Your soul is blowing apart.

Get a move on!

The next word is "death".

Death! You have no way out!

Oh, Thebes.

Oh, gods. Oh, look...

I go.

You, valid men of Thebes, I'm the last one left in a line of kings.

Look at what is happening to me.

And look at the men who are doing it.

I was caught in an act of perfect piety.

Hail, you kings of Thebes.

We've come, two people seeing as one - it is the blind man's way.

What's up, Teiresias?

I'll tell you and you must do what the seers say.

I've followed your advice before.

And so you kept the city going straight. Indeed, I owe you much.

You're standing on a razor's edge. What?

Why, I feel suddenly cold.

Listen, then.

Listen and learn.

I was sitting in the place I always sit, a sanctuary for every kind of bird. I'm listening to their voices all sounds...wrong.

Wild and weird, like monsters tearing at each other with their talons, thrashing at each other with their wings.

Fear comes into me.

I turn to the altar, but the fires won't light.

The embers sputter, the fat slides off the bones.

The boy described it all to me.

He's my guide as I am guide for others.

Now, you know, Kreon, the failing of the signs is in itself a sign.

And surely these signs failed and surely... the cause is you.

You bring this sickness on the city.

You gave that body to the birds and dogs so that...

..our hearts and altars are defiled.

Of course the gods have turned away from us.

Of course the birds are shrieking unintelligible things.

Their mouths are gorged with guts and blood...

My child, take heed.

To err is human, but to persist in error is imprudent, unlucky and just stupid.

Yield, Kreon.

That pile of rot that was the son of Oedipus...

The boy is dead.

Stop killing him.

I mean you well.

I give you good advice.

Take it.

You're a nice old man, but...

..all you seers are just mediocre marksman firing arrows at a man like me.

I've been the victim of your art of prophecy before, been bought and sold and trafficked by your tribe, so, fine...

Run your scam, take your profit.

You will not lay that body in a grave.

Not even if the very Eagles of Zeus decide to rip its flesh and carry bits of it up to the throne of God, let me repeat...

You WILL NOT lay that body in the grave.

No, I don't fear pollution. Human beings cannot pollute the gods.

I know this for a fact, but human beings are susceptible, aren't they, dear old Teiresias, to the profit motive.

Especially the clever ones.

Isn't anyone listening?

Doesn't anyone get it? Get what?

Good judgment.

Good judgment!

Nothing is more important. Well, yes.

And bad judgment can do great harm.

You are rotten with it, Kreon.

You are full of this disease.

I'm in no mood to trade sarcasms with a seer.

And yet you denounce my profession. Your profession?

That bunch of entrepreneurs?

While you tyrants grab anything you want without shame.

Don't you realise you're talking to your king? Oh, I do.

Who put you in this kingship?

HE GRUNTS AS BLOWS LAND Who helped you save the city?

Profit or not, you're dangerously fond of injustice.

You will provoke me to say things I keep in the dark of my heart.

Say them. Forget profit.

Do you really think I've been profiting up till now?

Just recognise you cannot buy my mind.

Well, then recognise this, Kreon - not many revolutions of the sun from this day, you shall have paid the price.

A corpse for a corpse, the life of your only begotten child.

For you've housed a living soul beneath the ground below and held a dead man here without his grave or rites...

It is so wrong.

It is... so...wrong.

The dead do not belong to you, nor to the gods above.

You violate these rules.

There are avengers lying in wait for you now. Watch out. Watch out!

I say...

Think again whether I am someone who has been paid to say this.

Not long, now...

There will be wailing of men and wailing of women...

They will be tumult of cities and hatred against you.

Dogs and birds and body parts and stench.

You can't do that.

These are the arrows I loose against you like an archer, yes.

Because you grieve me.

Because I'm angry.

And my arrows fly true - you will not escape their heat.

Take me home.

He can vent his rage on younger men.

And find a gentler tone.

A better attitude.

That was harsh.

But I have to say, I have been around a long time.

Historically, his prophecies are never false. I know.

I'm shaking.

On the one hand, to give in now would be terrible.

Equally terrible of course, to stand fast and be ruined. Take advice!

Tell me...

Set the girl free. Bury the boy.

Do you really mean this? I should just give in?

Quick. Quick! Quick!

Catastrophe can outrun fools.

It's hard. It's hard!

But, yes, I must...

Quick, quick! Go!

Go yourself. Go now!

I've changed my mind about this girl.

It was I imprisoned her and I shall set her free.

I now suspect...

..we have to live our lives right to the end... accordance with the old, established laws.


God of a thousand names...

You, who are there...

..visible in fire...

Moving in mystery, master of Thebes where the dragon seed fell.

Begotten of thunder, going where the river goes...

Green in the vine's shadow.

You who are there, hear our cry.

Make us well!


Bacchus, purify us, set the city right...

You, who organise the fire-breathing stars to dance and supervise the voices in the night, manager of madness, you, who are there...

Show yourself!

Hear our cry!




There is no stanza of human life that I would praise or blame.

Kreon I once thought was an enviable man, for he saved his land from its enemies.

He got his hands on monarchy, he sailed it straight and furrows of children flourished around him.

Now all that's gone.

When joy betrays you, I do not count your life alive.

A corpse is more alive.

Be as rich as you like, be a despot absolute.

If your happiness goes, I wouldn't buy you for a shadow of smoke.

What's your message?

They are dead.

Who's dead?

Haimon's dead.

By whose hand?

A hand very like his own.

For rage at his father.

OK, Teiresias. You won that round.

Game's not over. You're right.

Here is Eurydike, wife of Kreon.

What is she up to?



Did I overhear something?

I was just going out.

I was just at the door...

I was...going to offer prayers to Athena.

Just opening the door, I...

I heard a sound...

A voice.

Like sorrow.

Whatever the news is, do tell me.

Sorrow and I, we're not strangers.

(No.) Oh, beloved Queen...

I was there, will speak.

I'll leave nothing out.

Why soften the tale and be called a liar later?

I went with your husband as guide to the edge of the plain where it lay.

The dark, torn parts, the pots of him - Polyneikes.

We prayed the gods to hold back their anger.

We washed him and burned him on fresh-cut branches.

We piled high a mound and we left to go to the tomb of the girl, the bride of death.

And we are still a ways off when we hear a scream...

From that unholy place.

Someone comes running, but Kreon won't stop.

The scream is all around us now.

He quickens and lets out a cry to pierce your heart, "Oh, no, oh, no," he says

"Am I the prophet now?

"Could there be a road darker than this road I am on, "is it my own son crying out?"

"Go quicker, you people, drag the rocks back and go in.

"Do the gods deceive me or is that Haimon's voice I hear?"

Poor, hopeless king.

So we do what he says, and against the back wall, we see her... hung... by the neck... on a strand of silk.

The boy flings himself on her body, wailing.

Kreon sees him, runs in with a cry "Oh, my dear darling, "what have you done?

"Are you mad? Are you lost?

"Oh, child - come away! Come out! I beg you!"

Then the boy... with eyes like murder... spat on his father's face.

He said not a word, but drew his sword and lunged.

Kreon ran out.

The boy missed.

Then, in a black rage at himself, he turns his body for the sword and drove it all the way up to the lung.

Poor boy was still alive.

He folded himself around the girl...

..and breathed a thread of red, red blood onto her white, white cheek.

So he lay...

A corpse on a corpse.

And his bridal consummation was in the house of death.

What do you make of that?

She left without a word.

I too am surprised.

About time.

Nourish the hope that she felt it unsuitable to grieve in public and went inside to set the women wailing for the sorrow of the house.

She is a sensitive person. Maybe so.

Maybe so.

But it's a very heavy silence.

I don't like a heavy silence.

INTRO PLAYS QUIETLY: Heroin by Velvet Underground I'll go in and see.

You're right, it's too heavy a silence.

Here comes Kreon.

Dragging his...

Dragging his...

Dragging his what?

No-one else did this.

He did this.

It was my hard, killing mind.

My deadly goings wrong.

Oh, look...

The killers and the killed are all one family.

Oh, my child...

Too soon dead.

Oh, this sacrilege that I called public policy.

My child...

This child...

Alas, the child murdered by my folly.

You're late.

To learn what's right. Aren't you?

Late to learn.

Oh, yes!

I am...


Too late...

And then...

And then some God slammed down on me with all his weight.

Some God shook me out in savage directions.

Alas for the joy of my life that I have trampled underfoot.

Alas for us all gone dark.

Oh, King - you have evils in hand.

You have evils in store.

Soon you will see grief in the house.

What now? What worse?

Your wife is dead, the mother of your son.

Her wounds are recent.

HE GROANS Oh, filth of death!

Who can clean you out?

Oh, piling up of death, who can reckon you?

You take a man already broken and grind him to death.

See for yourself.

She's there.


So she is...

So they are...

My ruin now complete.

My son in my arms...

My wife...

..laid out before me.

All my beloveds.

You were his mother.

You were her son.

Oh, beloveds.

Before the end, before undoing her eyes to the dark, she called out one last time for this boy...

And she cursed you.

"Assassin of your own child," she said.

Of course she did.

The horror of it crawls all over me - will someone strike me dead, please?

Now I'm utterly blended with pain.

She blamed you - for all of it.

Then what? Stabbed herself in the liver.

So dear, oh, yes.

No-one else is to blame, I killed you.

I killed you, oh, dear one - I did.

Someone take Kreon away.

He no more exists than someone that does not exist.

Best to be brief.

When evil is all around your feet...

Let it come, let my end come, I cannot bear to look upon another day of life.

That's the future, this is the present.

You deal with the present. To die is my only prayer.

Then don't pray at all. You don't get to run this.

Take Kreon away.


MUSIC: Heroin by Velvet Underground Take Kreon away!

I murdered you both.

Oh, my beloveds...

Never intending to.


When can I look?

Where can I turn, when everything I touch goes wrong?

A fate no-one could bear has plunged down on me.

LOUDER: # Away from the big city

# Where a man cannot be free

# Of all the evils

# Of this town and of himself

# And those around

# Oh, and I guess that I just don't know

# Oh, and I guess that I just don't know LOUD INSTRUMENTAL SECTION

# Oh, and I guess I just don't know

# Oh, and I guess I just don't know. #