Antony and Cleopatra – July 2010

9/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Michael Boyd

Venue: Courtyard Theatre

Date: Thursday 1st July 2010

This has really come on. Darrell D’Silva now has both hands working fully, and with the extra experience his performance as Antony shows much greater assurance and authority. He’s the passionate military man, loving life to the full, and with admirable qualities which inspire devotion in his men. However, he isn’t as politically astute as either Cleopatra or Caesar, and that, rather than his infatuation with Cleopatra, seems to be the root of his downfall in this production.

John Mackay’s Caesar is even more the politician. He’s always in his suit this time – I think he wore fatigues during the battles last time – and the subtle suggestion that Caesar himself is making the marriage proposal via Agrippa, which we picked up on in the understudies run, has developed into a full-blown political manoeuvre now, with Caesar clearly tipping the wink to Agrippa while declaring, in all pretend innocence, that ‘if I knew of….’. As we were sitting by the walkway tonight, I could see the smirk on Caesar’s face as he left the meeting, together with an expression of relief – he seemed to think that bringing Antony into the family would solve a lot of problems.

I mean no disrespect when I say that Kathryn Hunter was just as good as Cleopatra. It’s a measure of her acting skills that her performance back in April was much more developed, so there were fewer obvious changes tonight, although with the stronger output all round, she had more to play against. I know there are murmurings about the ‘courageous’ casting decisions for this production, but personally speaking, both Steve and I find this portrayal believable and powerful. So there.

Some bits I hadn’t noted before: the blue sheet before the first sea battle was pulled out through the doors, while the overhanging blue sheet was pulled back after the battle. The play started with Cleopatra kneeling centre stage, declaiming a couple of lines. Antony joined her, and while they were in a serious clinch, the two Romans entered to speak the opening lines proper.

© 2010 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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