This sensational, broad, swirling epic, filmed live from the National Theatre , is magnificently staged and acted with towering performances by Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the lead roles. Directed by Simon Godwin we see how the two worlds of Egypt and Rome collide and love blindly leads to tragedy.
The production has been transposed to now with mobiles, hi tech computer screens etc and contemporary speech patterns. But the poetry remains and is fresh and exciting ( eg Enobarbus’s “ purple barge “ speech ) .It begins with Caesar’s (Tunji Kasim) arrival at Cleopatra’s monument to discover she has just died and he issues order that she be buried alongside Antony. “No grave upon the earth shall clip in it ,A pair so famous.” We then look back on the great relationship between Antony and Cleopatra .
In Hildegard Bechtler’s set designs Egypt is represented by cool turquoise and water pools, Rome by stark polished offices and war rooms with precise hardness and neatness and displays of primitive masks ( Egyptian plunder? ) . Video footage of riot-shield clashes and a crescendo of mortar blasts in bombed-out streets put us bang in the middle of current middle-eastern clashes .There is a wonderful evocation of a submarine and The Monument uses tall simple lines. At times the use of the revolve is dizzying . Continue reading NT LIVE : ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA