The RSC’s Antony and Cleopatra at the Barbican

GodDaughter One’s Mum and Dad are members of a theatre-going gang, who take it in turns to organise for them all to go to the theatrical performance, about every month or so. Tonight it was Antony and Cleopatra by the RSC, at the Barbican. But GodDaughter One’s Mum was otherwise engaged, helping out with a jewellery show done by GodDaughter One’s Sister, so I went to the Barbican instead.

As so often, when I really pay attention to a Shakespeare play (and if you are seeing it in a theatre there is not a lot else to be doing), I learned a great deal about it.

I did not catch every word. Much of the support acting, especially by the young men playing various Roman soldiers and messengers, was decidedly school-play-ish, to my old eyes and old ears. These brand-X guys simply did not fill the auditorium properly. Since we were at the back, we suffered. Nor did it help that I for one could not see their faces properly, from that far away. But Antony and Cleopatra were both pretty good, as was Enobarbus. But honestly, only the music came over loud and clear.

I will be investigating this play further on the screen. YouTube offers this, which looks like it could be pretty good. I quite like north American accents in Shakespeare, given that it probably sounded more like this originally than it sounded like modern Posh English.

As for DVDs, this and this both look promising. Also: cheap.

Back in the Barbican, Josette Simon as Cleopatra yanked the verse around a lot, but that all added to the impression of her being a force of nature. Antony, played by Peter Byrne, was a very prosaic figure by comparison. I especially like the line in this Guardian review about how “Simon is excellent in the closing passages suggesting that Cleopatra is living out a fantasy of an idealised Antony”. Yes. So, best of all might well be a DVD of this RSC production.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

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