Friday, December 07, 2018

'Antony & Cleopatra' by William Shakespeare

7 December 2018

It is almost exactly a year since I first saw Shakespeare’s ‘Antony & Cleopatra’, in the Royal Shakespeare Company production starring Josette Simon (reviewed here in December 2017). The new National Theatre production, which we saw on Thursday via the NT Live screening at the Odeon in Milton Keynes, is a very different version of the play. Regular readers will know that Simon Godwin is one of my favourite theatre directors (see my review of his ‘Twelfth Night’ here in April 2017) and I really liked his take on ‘Antony & Cleopatra’. He uses the vast stage of the Olivier Theatre to great effect, particularly the huge revolve. Hildegard Bechtler’s set is stunning, giving the play a beautiful contemporary backdrop and Evie Gurney’s costumes are equally impressive. ‘Antony & Cleopatra’ reunites Simon Godwin with Ralph Fiennes who was such a compelling presence on stage in Godwin’s production of ‘Man and Superman’ (reviewed here in May 2015). Ralph Fiennes is an incredibly physical actor, giving Mark Antony a middle-aged gait and making him a restless, capricious character. Sophie Okonedo is a brilliant Cleopatra – in turns playful, passionate, angry and distraught. ‘Antony & Cleopatra’ is a long play but it kept my attention and the tableau created by set, lighting, costumes and actors will live long in my memory.

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