This evening we went to the Balsamine Theatre to watch a performance of Ismene. As you all knew (didn’t you?) Ismene was a daughter and half-sister of Oedipus, daughter and granddaughter of Jocasta, and sister of Antigone, Eteocles, and Polynices. The play (a Monnaie production), written by Georges Aperghis, is a monologue based on a poem by Yannis Ritsos and was performed brilliantly by Marianne Pousseur. The Balsamine is a small, intimate theatre, and it was no mean feat for Pousseur, completely naked and onstage throughout, to hold the audience’s attention so powerfully. In the legend, Ismene is the compliant citizen (in comparison with the more extreme and unreasonable Antigone). In the play, she remembers her childhood and poignant moments in her life, caught between the powerful figures of Oedipus and Antigone. I thought the portrayal hinted that Ismene had been driven to a sort of madness through the constant experience of being torn between stronger passions and her own schizophrenic desire to be both reasonable and loyal. Other members of our party did not agree. I wonder if any of you out there saw it and what you thought. The production and lighting, by the way, was by Enrico Bagnoli, with much emphasis on shadows and silhouettes and reflections and some moments of extraordinary beauty (Ismène stands in a shallow basin of water onto which various images and Greek script are projected). Pousseur’s body, half in shadow, half a sort of fleshly manuscript was an outstanding image. Once again, I was left thinking how extraordinarily privileged we are to live in such a culturally rich city.