Antony and Cleopatra

Thu 4th – Sat 6th December 2014

reviews

Divyameenakshi Viswanathan

at 08:49 on 5th Dec 2014

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"Is this well done?" asks one of the characters at the end of this Shakespeare tragedy. I'd say on the whole, Anthony and Cleopatra, directed by Dominic Williams and produced by Allegra Dowley, was quite enjoyable, albeit with a few flaws.

The ensemble as a whole did a good job but there were a few weak links here and there. Enunciation seemed to be a bit of a problem, especially towards the end of the play. I kept getting the feeling that the lines were being rushed and this just set the mood of the play off a little bit. Sandy Thin (Antony) gave a considerable effort but he tended to rely a little too heavily on the same body language throughout, so it got a bit repetitive. However, his death in the final scene was really good, as it was not overdone and actually quite believable. Melanie Clarke (Cleopatra) was a good mix of vain, histrionic and humorous but towards the second half, again, she got vaguely repetitive. There was no modulation or difference in the way her lines were delivered throughout the performance. But kudos to her for being able to handle a live snake on stage!

Bear in mind, these are just minor criticisms. Both the lead actors were decent in their roles and made the play enjoyable. The lead did not leave much room for the other actors, which is a shame as Chris Yeates (Enobarbus) gave quite a convincing performance, as a dear friend and ally turned traitor. His guilt at the end was a little overdone but again, the scene on the whole was not extremely exaggerated. The rest of the ensemble worked well together, with no other flaws standing out.

The choice to adopt a minimalist approach to the set, with only a chair or two in most scenes was rather smart as it lent a stark contrast to the animated flow of language which would have been hard to keep up with had the set been overly dramatised. The choice of costumes was excellent and lent to the atmosphere of it all quite well.

In a nutshell, a decent performance by all the actors, good use of the stage and excellent costumes, resulted in a decent attempt in this Shakespeare classic.

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Courtney Marie Cliffe

at 09:51 on 5th Dec 2014

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DUCTs production of Antony and Cleoaptra was at times gripping. The director clearly understands the text and there were elements of this play that were beautifully executed.

A mention must go to Melanie Clark who played Cleopatra. She was as enchanting as she was brilliant. Slipping like a glove into a complex role, she was by far not only the best actor, but also one of the few characters who never stumbled over lines, seeming natural and fluid. Her costumes did nothing but emphasise her power and grace. At the end of the okay she handled the live snake far better than I feel most would have done! She seemed to be one of the few characters who actually understood what they were saying, with exception to Chris Yates, who played Enobarbus. In some ways I feel he stole the show from Antony - his acting was believable and he portrayed the character well. His death scene was one that wasn't clumsy like the rest.

Regarding the casting of the show, I felt that all the right people were there and they were good actors, but at the same time I felt they were in the wrong parts. It is quite confusing, and many of the audience members pointed it out. I felt Antony, although a good actor, was also quite confusing. It wasn't clear how we should react to him and his behaviour towards Cleopatra was at times sleazy and ill-befitting. He stumbled over the text, seeming to want to get it all out whilst not really understanding the intonation behind the words.

On other aspects to the production, I'm not entirely sure where this play was supposed to be set, and I'm not sure the director does either. The music, costumes and props didn't match any specific era. Mostly, the sound failed to enhance the scene and at times was comical. The costumes were good at defining which army the characters belonged to but was ill-fitting to the time set by props. The acting on a whole was engaging, but the movement was clumsy and diction was lost in mangled Shakespeare. Characters left the stage before their speech was finished, meaning we lost those pivotal lines that close a Shakespeare speech.

The set design was interesting and fitting to the action, though the scene changers were a little clumsy. The lighting was good at setting the place of action; the orangey glow of Egypt was near perfect. I feel this adaptation scratches the surface of the play, and at times delving deeper as Cleopatra takes to the stage, but on a whole, a little clumsy. This production is worth seeing if you are a Shakespeare fan, but be wary if you are not, as you may find this play hard to follow.

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