If you think your family is gnarly and messed up, you can always look to the Greeks for perspective.
Imagine that your father killed his father — your grandfather — and married his mother, making her both your mother and grandmother. Now imagine that your two brothers, who were cursed by your father, wind up killing each other.
Don't want to imagine that? I don't blame you.
That scenario — which makes family tension at Thanksgiving and Christmas seem like a piece of cake — may not seem like a great heritage to uphold. But, hey, it's a royal one for Antigone, the classic Greek antiheroine whose tragedy opened over the weekend at Park Square Theatre.
Most takes on "Antigone" — including Seamus Heaney's music-infused "Burial at Thebes" at the Guthrie and Greg Banks' memorable promenade-style version at the Children's Theatre — emphasize the conflict between divine law and human will.
Cursed by Oedipus, their dying father, princely brothers Eteocles (Kelly Nelson) and Polynices (Antonia Perez) die at each other's hands. King Creon (Laura Leffler), their uncle, declares Eteocles a hero, with a burial befitting a celebrated man. The king considers Polynices a traitor and decrees that his body be left at the city gates for vultures and wild dogs.
Antigone decides that both brothers deserve proper funeral rites.
In the most popular reading of this tragedy, Antigone is inspired to bury Polynices by a higher calling, damn the earthly consequences.
But in her highly physical update of Sophocles' millennia-old tragedy, director MJ (Meagan) Kedrowski asks, what if the motivation comes less from above than from those at Antigone's side? What if Antigone (Lauren Diesch) is more like a girl-next-door who simply wants to do right by her brother, and to honor her bloodline?
It's a question made more intriguing because the director has sought to make the show contemporary. The title character is called "Tiggy" by her family members. Her sister, Ismene (Jamila Joiner), is "Issa." And Eurydice (Jamie White Jachimiec), their queen aunt, is "CeeCee."
There are plenty of other modern touches to this "Antigone," staged with minimalist props and in Morgan Groff's sort-of-Greek costumes. Kedrowski uses ritualized pageantry and magical finger-snaps to summon scenes from the past in her staging — an all-female spin on a production she helmed with the same title actor at Theatre Coup d'Etat in fall 2016.
You can see the ambition of the piece, even if the show does not always reach its potential. Diesch's Antigone feels like the conceived character is not entirely developed.
But the cast makes some good acting choices. Jachimiec is a stately and knowing Eurydice. Leffler is assured as King Creon. There also are nice turns by Joiner, as Ismene, and Vinecia Coleman as Haemon.
The production has musical accompaniment by pianist Sarah Modena and electric guitarist Steve Modena, who also plays percussion. They all work to turn this very strange family into people we can relate to. Or, at least, make our own families look good by contrast.