REVIEW| Royal Shakespeare Company (@TheRSC) ’ Antony And Cleopatra @BarbicanCentre

Image Credit: Helen Maybanks (RSC)

Image Cred­it: Helen May­banks (RSC)

Mark Ant­ony and Cleo­patra serves as the his­tor­ic­al sequel to Juli­us Caesar. After the demise of Caesar, his loy­al and flam­boy­ant gen­er­al Mark Ant­ony joined forces with Caesar’s heir and great-neph­ew; Octavi­us. Togeth­er they defeated the men who con­spired against their beloved fath­er fig­ure, and divided the empire between them­selves. The con­ser­vat­ive Octavi­us (now call­ing him­self Caesar) took Rome. Whilst Mark Ant­ony took Gaul (France) and Egypt for him­self.

This suited Mark Ant­ony well. The bor­ing drudgery of Roman polit­ics nev­er inter­ested the gif­ted war gen­er­al. The exot­ic allure of Egypt was much more fit­ting to his per­son­al­ity. Although he would not get to rule Egypt alone, as the ancient land already had a Queen; the infam­ous Cleo­patra.

Cleo­patra is a fas­cin­at­ing his­tor­ic­al char­ac­ter. She is syn­onym­ous with beauty, des­pite prob­ably being quite ugly. She is known for her god-like roy­alty, in spite of being ascribed numer­ous per­son­al­ity flaws. To the Romans she was an enchant­ress; who bewitched Mark Ant­ony with extra­vag­ant feasts, orgy parties and unques­tioned power.

The play opened up with a scene from the fam­ous parties of Ant­ony and Cleo­patra. People dressed up as anim­als enjoy­ing the pleas­ures of the flesh to seduct­ive music played by the orches­tra. This was con­tras­ted by the fol­low­ing scene of a sober Roman bath­house which Octavi­us Caesar was spend­ing his time bend­ing the ears of oth­er sen­at­ors rather than party­ing.

Josette Simon was abso­lutely elec­tric as Cleo­patra. She made the ridicu­lous char­ac­ter­ist­ics of the Queen almost seem ration­al. Whilst Ant­ony Byrne gave us a con­flic­ted and weathered Mark Ant­ony. Their stage chem­istry worked well to provide a bal­ance of humour and drama. Ben Allen also did well to por­tray a cal­cu­lat­ing but occa­sion­ally imma­ture Octavi­us Caesar.

The design­ers and act­ors had done well to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the col­our­ful Egyp­tian char­ac­ters and sets as opposed to their sombre Roman coun­ter­parts. The mini­ature ships used for the war scenes were also beau­ti­fully designed.

I applaud the cast and crew for an enjoy­able and mem­or­able night filled with tragedy and laughter.

Ant­ony & Cleo­patra is show­ing at the Bar­bican until Janu­ary 20th 2018. For tick­ets Click here.

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Merz is No Bounds’ well-being lead. A long­time hip hop head with sev­er­al years exper­i­ence in men­tal health. He is also founder of a vegan Mac & Cheese food truck @lazyboykitchen .

About Merz

Merz is No Bounds' well-being lead. A longtime hip hop head with several years experience in mental health. He is also founder of a vegan Mac & Cheese food truck @lazyboykitchen .