ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA by William Shakespeare. Filmed live from the National Theatre, Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo play Shakespeare’s famous fated couple in his great tragedy of politics, passion and power. Director Simon Godwin returns to National Theatre Live screens with this hotly anticipated production.
Caesar and his assassins are dead. General Mark Antony now rules alongside his fellow defenders of Rome. But at the fringes of a war-torn empire the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and Mark Antony have fallen fiercely in love. In a tragic fight between devotion and duty, obsession becomes a catalyst for war.Continue reading ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA FROM NT LIVE. PREVIEW GIVEAWAY→
Secret House has come up with a captivating two hour adaptation of Shakespeare’s great love tragedy, in modern dress and using the original language and plot. This stripped down new version is fast-paced and features an ensemble of just eleven actors skilfully playing some twenty seven roles.
In this epic play the Bard brilliantly charts the highs and lows of the intimate relationship between the besotted Mark Antony and the beautiful Cleopatra. Thematically, the work is a unique exploration of the conflicts of politics, sex and power, in a war torn empire, starting with the Sicilian revolt until Cleopatra’s suicide, during the Final War of the Roman Republic. Shakespeare tinkers with the historical facts to aid in his dramatisation.
It is easy to imagine how Shakespeare’s lesser known works present modern directors with an enticing platter for experimentation, to avoid comparisons with the countless other productions that are attached to some of his classics, such as HAMLET. The tragedy of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, Shakespeare’s play representing the sexual immorality and civil war in the late Roman era could be such an opportunity, and Ira Seidenstein, director of the current production of the play at Sydney’s King St Theatre claims just that.
Seidenstein’s production brings a mixed group of performers to the stage, from established through to emerging artists and a small ensemble of young performers who have been mentored through the development period.
Seidenstein holds nothing back, dragging his actors and audience through the full-length version of the play in order to “engage with the text”. While this shows a valiant ambition on the part of the director, it is a choice which seems to have allowed little consideration for the varying experience levels of his cast or to the fact that Shakespeare’s own company would not have performed the full play. Nevertheless, the actors give solid performances. Berynn Schwerdt (Antony), being the most experienced actor in the group is the natural standout. Jonathan Dunk (Octavius Caesar) and Robert J Edwards (Pompey) also show a lot of promise in their work.
If the role of the reviewer is to challenge, critique and ultimately enhance the creative climate of a community, then sometimes it is necessary for a bit of discomfort. My criticism of Seidenstein’s work is that it does not seem to reflect his vast experience and knowledge in the context of this production. Contrary to the statements of Seidenstein’s director’s notes about this being a daring new production, this show would have benefited from some dramaturgical discretion and better use of creative licence to work to the strengths of his cast. The end result is a lengthy production which lacks aesthetic clarity and textual cohesion.
Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing how these actors progress in future works and especial congratulations to the younger cast members who survived what was no doubt a mammoth rehearsal period developing this three hour work.
Ira Seidenstein’s production of William Shakespeare’s ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA opened at the King Street Theatre, corner of King and Bray streets, Newtown on Wednesday 5th June and runs until Saturday 15th June, 2013
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