Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
This play is so good, it is not merely a masterpiece: it is a mystery. The two protagonists are alternately noble and petty, wise and foolish, and yet they never seem inconsistent or self-contradictory because Shakespeare--here is the mystery--consistently maintains a tone that is paradoxically both ironic and heroic. Part of it is the language, which shifts seamlessly from mellifluous monologues adorned with cosmic imagery (comparing Anthony and Cleopatra to continents, stars,etc.) to the most modern-sounding, most casual and wittiest dialogue of Shakespeares career. Part of it is the larger-than-life characterization which transforms each vicious and pathetic absurdity into a privilege of the lovers protean magnificence--as undeniable and unquestionable as the sovreign acts of Olympian gods. Whatever the reason, this play makes me laugh and cry and leaves me with a deep spiritual reverence for the possibilities of the human heart.
I wrote the paragraph above two and a half years ago, and it still reflects my opinion of the play. This time through, though, I was particularly struck by how much the voices of the military subordinates and servants--Enobarbus and Charmion, Ventidius and Alexis, and many others, including even unnamed messengers and soldiers--contribute to this double movement of the ironic and heroic, celebrating the leaders mythic qualities but also commenting on their great flaws. Enobarbus--with his loyal (albeit amused) appreciation, his disillusioned betrayal, and his subsequent death from what can best be described as a broken heart--is central to this aspect of the play.
"Antony and Cleopatra" at Folger Theatre
Sep 27, Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo are at the top of their game as the self-deluded lovers, and director Simon Godwin proves yet again that he combines a contemporary eye with a fastidious ear for Shakespeare’s language. But Fiennes is at his best in charting Antony’s tragic.
Julius Caesar/Antony and Cleopatra review – Rome truths from the RSC
A naval battle becomes a delicate dance of model ships, so many toys to delight a queen. Josette Simon was good but wasted in this production. This was better than the awful Julius Caesar. Umm, that's about the only positives. Another stinker from the reliably pedestrian and insipid RSC. I am massively disappointed but not surprised and have fingers crossed that Imperium tightens up and improves from its 2 and 3 star reviews from SUA before it comes to London. How I wish that Imperium had been given to another company.
Folger Theatre is transformed dramatically for their production of Antony and Cleopatra , and that dramatic transformation also applies to the play itself. The love affair sizzles, and the play cooks. Their relationship is an ongoing and cyclical series of tests, teasings, baiting, challenges, battles, wounds, healing, and reconciling. Babb and Nickell are excellent navigators through the tempests. Director Robert Richmond keeps the action flowing with fast-paced staging and a lean and smartly cut script.
In the title roles, Antony Byrne and Josette Simon are pulling in even more directions than their characters are meant to be. She is, at least, compulsively watchable, because you never know what line reading she is going to go for next — and, for her death scene, she springs the biggest surprise of all. Designer Robert Innes Hopkins resourcefully re-uses set pieces from Julius Caesar — the horse and lion statue reappears, for instance, adorning the top of a monumental archway. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts. The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation.
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N ow is obviously the perfect time to launch a season tracking the disintegration of a mighty empire. Angus Jackson and Robert Innes Hopkins, as director and designer of Julius Caesar, usher us into a Rome that, for all its imposing marble columns, is clearly filled with inner turbulence. The great virtue of the production, which is spoken with exemplary clarity, is its nuanced portrayal of the divisions among those conspiring against a dictatorial Caesar. Alex Waldmann portrays Brutus as a troubled neurotic who masks his uncertainty by making a series of wrong-headed decisions: my abiding image is of him sitting alone, after the conspirators have departed, trembling with fear at the task ahead. Everything about this production feels right. It makes some interesting choices. Rome, instead of offering the usual stoical contrast to a voluptuous Egypt, is a place where male leaders gather in steamy bath rooms.
They are always contemporary and relevant, as archetypes of the collision between politics and passion. Griffin here. And it is, of course, one of the greatest love stories of all time. First-rate acting and imaginative directing choices combine to make an exhilarating evening in the theatre. His performance builds slowly, and as he reaches the point of mind-numbing desperation, he takes us all with him.