Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

Dates and Venue 16 June – 24 September, 2010 | Mainstage, Vanier Park

Reviewer Ed Farolan

I wasn't too happy with this production, mainly because I felt the roles were miscast. After seeing actors like Marlon Brando and Richard Burton play Marc Antony, I found it quite difficult to see a middle-aged, bearded and bald-headed actor (Andrew Wheeler) assume this supposedly "sexy" role. Likewise, I didn't really see any fireworks in the love scenes between him and Cleopatra. After seeing Elizabeth Taylor and other seductive Cleopatras playing this Nile queen, I couldn't see any resemblance or anything close to a Cleopatra in Jennifer Lines.

The role of a dark-skinned African Cleopatra would have better suited either of her maids-in-waiting, Almeera Jiwa or Sarah Afful. Lines would have fitted Octavia better. How in the world could Octavius Caesar have a black sister? This wasn't historically the case.

I wasn't happy either with the multiple staging of this production. It was quite confusing having the scenes in Egypt and Rome on the same level. If they were put on different stage levels, as Shakespeare intended to, then it wouldn't have confused the audience as much.

With regard to the acting, director Scott Bellis refers to this play as an "actor's play". I don't agree. Shakespeare is not Method Acting. You don't let the actors do their thing. For example, I can't imagine a Cleopatra moving jerkily onstage. An Egyptian woman, more so a queen, should act more regally, more willowy, so to speak.

I may be wrong, but there seems to be an inconsistency in appearance and costumes. The costumes date back, and I agree with costume design of Ms. Gottler. But what about the hair? Did Lepidus (Allan Morgan) have long hair? Romans, I believe, sported short hair in those days.

This play is not one of the greatest plays of Shakespeare, and the only reason it has become popular is because of the spectacular movie versions that have been made, especially the superstar roles of Antony and Cleopatra.

I agree with some of the comments made by some of the audience members as they strolled out during intermission: boring and confusing.

© 2010 Ed Farolan