Tragic Threads

As I found my seat in the third row of the Jerome Robbins Theater, I wondered if the show had already begun. I watched, entranced, as an ensemble of eccentrically clad performers downed Boxed Waters and chatted gleefully among themselves. Then, a woman sporting a bob and draped in beige, purple, and gray walked up to a trench coat dangling ominously from the rafters. She embraced it, her head pressed against the lapels as though she were listening for a heartbeat, before drifting over to a table downstage. Plucking gum from her mouth, she cleared her throat and prepared to address the audience. “How do we honor our dead?” she asked.

It was an appropriate, somber start to an unlikely staging of Antigone. Conceived by Sara Lopez of the fashion house A—Company and directed by Daphné Dumons (the woman with the bob), the sleek yet earnest production excerpted scenes from Anne Carson’s new translation of the source material. Whereas Dumons likened it to an open rehearsal, the event seemed to me a work in process, and maybe therefore a work about process.

Maybe I was simply thinking about the clothes. The cast, Jeremy O. Harris, Blake Abbie, and Sydney Lemmon, was decked out in A—Company’s prefall 2024 collection. The pieces allude to a familiar sartorial language: denim, coat, tie. But these elements are often so deconstructed that they skirt the line of wearability, becoming something more than mere garments. This is, in effect, A—Company’s mission statement, which juxtaposes concepts such as queerness and craftsmanship (“purposeful disruptions through sensitive and exact tailoring”).

For this reason, perhaps, Dumons opted to leave the gender of each character up to chance—a decision that seemed to embolden the actors. Lemmon (Succession, Tár), straight from a sold-out run of JOB at Soho Playhouse, elevated a typically unremarkable character—The Guard—to absurdist heights. Harris’s explosive portrayal of Kreon evolved the most over the hour-or-so run time; he graciously took notes from Dumons, incorporating them into his performance.

With Dumons’s prompt still echoing in my head, it was hard not to read global events into the age-old tragedy. In a world defined by catastrophes, not least the one unfolding in Gaza, what do we do with our dead when there are too many bodies to count? Quoting Carson, Dumons wanted us to make sure of one thing—that we didn’t forget: “Dear Antigone, I take it as the task of the translator to forbid you should ever lose your screams.”