Monday, 25 August 2014

Theatre 2014: Review Twenty-Seven

Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare's Globe, London. August 2014.

This was a postponed play, Mr Norfolkbookworm and I had booked to see this in May but due to the illness of Clive Wood the performance we hoped to see was cancelled and we had to rebook.

It was worth the wait and I am really pleased that we did manage to fit a performance in before the end of the run.  From start to finish this was full of energy, laughter and fun with characters who were totally believable.

For me Antony was a perfect mix of upright soldier who tried to do his duty and a man who had his head turned by a clever, beautiful woman who was completely his equal rather than subservient to him.

Cleopatra was wily, clever, fun, intelligent and just a little insecure and the chemistry between them sizzled throughout.  However they didn't over shadow the rest of the cast, it still was a full ensemble piece that didn't have a weak link.

I'd read the play a little while ago and found myself unsure as to whether it could be labelled as a history, tragedy or comedy and I found that this production married all three aspects whilst leaning towards comedic end of the spectrum the most. There were moments of glorious over acting, thanks to the text not hammy performances, but these were balanced by the drama given to more serious scenes.

Performing battles at sea is never going to be easy on the stage at the Globe and I was very impressed by the portrayal of Actium using just two actors, two flags and some very clever rope work.  The outcome of the battle was very clear and this almost trapeze work made a complete change in pace to the play without spoiling the flow.

Without a doubt this has leapt into my top 5 plays of the year so far and if it hadn't just finished I would urge you all to see it. Luckily it has been filmed and will hopefully be out on DVD (or in the cinema) next year.

After the show there was a special event for Friends of the Globe and we got to spend 45 minutes in the beautiful Sam Wanamaker Theatre hearing 3/4 of the cast talking about the play and answering questions from the audience.
Rightly so a lot of the conversation involved praise for the cast and production but from my studying point of view it was really interesting to hear how the actors feel about performing at The Globe.  I've read a lot of critical work on the space but to hear from the horses mouth about how different, yet rewarding, the space is pleased me.  Many of the cast made the point that it really does make Shakespeare more accessible - as I've certainly found.

This made a perfect end to the afternoon and I think that next season I may try to get to more of these events and I am pleased that Rebecca and I have tickets to the pre-performance talk for Dr Scroggy's War in October.

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