A contemporary world. A decimated city.
A bathtub. Midnight. Stillness. Two sisters. Both exhausted. Heavy pressure in the room. Things are happening slowly here.
ISMENE sleeps in the bathtub. ANTIGONE is watching her. Silence. She wakes her sister.
ANTIGONE: [whispering] Xipna. Xipna.
ISMENE is startled. Lies back again.
I can’t either.
You look good though … for no sleep.
You looked like you were dreaming. Going into a dream … coming out of a dream. What were you dreaming about?
Nothing from ISMENE.
The silent treatment.
Silence. ISMENE starts washing—rubbing oil on her skin.
The silent ointment!
It’s a lacquer, your silence, isn’t it? My quiet … polished sister.
It’s so hot.
ANTIGONE touches ISMENE’s back. ISMENE flinches sharply.
I know, they’re cold, aren’t they? Do you know why they’re cold? Do you know why my hands are so cold?
ISMENE: They’re always cold.
ANTIGONE: Not like this.
It’ll happen faster in this heat, won’t it? His skin.
ANTIGONE draws gently on her sister’s back with her fingers, begins examining it closely.
Not yours. You’ll turn into a lamp when you die … all light and heat and oil, you’ll never decay. You’ll liquefy. Bodies are porous, aren’t they? They ooze. Like borders, nothing stays in, nothing’s kept out, in the end. We should bottle you before you burn away, all that scented sweat. Oil of Grace, we’ll call it. Eau de Demure. Eau de-mure. Eau de Manure!
The trivial provocations have no effect on ISMENE.
Always so calm! How do you do it? It’s like you’ve stopped. You make things stop … don’t you, you make boys stop in the street. In the market. Stop and smell the ointment.
ISMENE: Is that our father’s coat?
Take it off. Take it off!
ANTIGONE: No. Why?
ISMENE: Give it to me.
ANTIGONE removes the coat.
ISMENE: [in a whisper] Still smells like him. I didn’t know you had this. Where did you hide it?
ANTIGONE: I don’t know.
ISMENE: You told me to keep nothing. Throw a black stone over your shoulder, you said, and never think of him again. You said we’d never go back there.
ANTIGONE: Rixe mavri petra. And did you throw a black stone?
Pause. ANTIGONE pulls a small bottle out of the pocket of the coat.
ISMENE: Where did you get that? When did you start …?
ANTIGONE: Questions, questions. Does it matter? Our brothers are dead. Brandy is traditional at this moment, right?
Offers ISMENE the brandy.
Don’t worry. It’s a good one. Metaxa brandy—
ISMENE takes the drink.
Ohh-hoo, she’s drinking. Do you want a smoke too?
ISMENE: What’s wrong with you, Antigone?
ANTIGONE: You won’t talk to me.
ISMENE: Talk about what?
ANTIGONE: You know what—you know what …
ISMENE steps sharply into her towel and prepares to leave. ANTIGONE’s restlessness getting more active/dangerous.
I’ll talk to myself, maybe you’ll eavesdrop. No, I’ll pretend there’s a crowd—I’ll pretend this is the amphitheatre. This is the orchestra—your bathroom!—Now there’s a show! There’s a civic duty men would turn up to. Thousands of eyes staring at your bath. The old plays in the amphitheatre never start like that, do they? It’s always a gate, or palace doors, pillars, strong things. No-one wants a play about weak things. [Announcing as a herald] Gentlemen of Thebes, we have no pillars but I give you pillows—
ISMENE: Shut up, you’ll wake our uncle—
ANTIGONE: No guards, no gates.
She holds up a pair of her sister’s underwear.
Ah, now there’s a gate. There’s a way in, you men of Thebes, Ismene’s threshold—
ISMENE hits ANTIGONE hard, surprising her, and pushes her fiercely to the ground. ANTIGONE lies there, unaffected by it.
ISMENE: Just give Haemon what he wants, Antigone. You won’t find sex so fascinating.
ANTIGONE: Bet the ancients never thought we’d see those things in the theatre. Maybe one day there’ll be no rules at all. Even an ignorant girl taking a bath will be considered interesting.
ISMENE: I’m not stupid, Antigone.
ANTIGONE: I never said stupid.