Kissing the Floor in New York
Ellen McLaughlin's Moving Take on Antigone
By: Susan Hall - Mar 02, 2023
Kissing the Floor, a radical and strangely beautiful retelling of Antigone by Sophocles, is playing on Theatre Row in New York through March 12th. It is compellingly acted. The language, even as it describes ugly scenes, is lilting and lovely.
Playwright Ellen McLaughlin often delves into Greek subjects. She masterfully probes Antigone. As an actress, she is best known for originating the role of the Angel in Angels in America.
The set is minimal. Two sisters are paired at the start. One is our narrator and introduces us not to the person of Annie (Christine Bennet Lind) but to her Morse code signaling through the floor of her home. She is in touch with the underworld.
Rinde Eckert plays an Irish prison warden and keeper of a Potter’s Field in which 6000 anonymous bodies are buried each year. This is a new angle on Antigone’s need to bury her brother, the driving force of the original play. You sense Eckert's authorial presence as well as his gift for language. His take on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is the most satisfying modern interpretation of the novel.
Leon Ingulsrud plays twin brothers, one imprisoned for breaking and entering. He was able to avoid a pederasty charge. He only gazed and petted. Annie was one of his pets. He is as elegant as Eddie and he is creepy as the twin.
Christine Bennet Lind is still trembling and shaking from her experience with her jailed brother. Yet she is his only regular visitor.
When her sister Izzy, the brilliant actress Akyiass Wilson, points out that she does not owe her brother this attention, Annie erupts with crucial lines about the requirements of blood relations to tend one another.
This is the core question of the play: When close relatives behave in ways unacceptable to the society around them, what do other family members owe? This is a universal and timeless question raised by a sensitively written and acted play.
Kissing the Floor is running on Theater Row through March 12th. Tickets here.